In this research project, we studied factors that presumably affect the incidence of diarrhoea among young children in urban slums in developing countries: consumption of safe drinks, hygiene behaviour, cleanliness of household surroundings and the quality of raw water. Beliefs concerning the causes of diarrhoea were also related to health-improving behaviour, namely the application of the water-treatment method SODIS (solar water disinfection) and hygiene behaviour. We conducted a survey in a shanty town in Nairobi, Kenya. Field workers interviewed 500 households. Analysis with regression models revealed that two out of the four postulated factors were significant: children have a lower risk of contracting diarrhoea when they consume high percentages of safe drinks and live in households with good hygiene. As regards beliefs, we found that biomedical knowledge of children's diarrhoea as well as the perceived social norm for treating water was associated with the use of SODIS and good hygiene.