Water availability and nutritional status of under five children living in peri-urban settlements in Lusaka, Zambia
This study examined the difference in nutritional status of children living in Chainda and Kamanga compounds, both of which are high density peri-urban settlements in Lusaka, Zambia. The focus ofthe study was on how water availability, diarrhoeal disease and parasitic infection influence the nutritional status of children under five years of age. Residents of Chainda compound which was designated the poor water availability (PWA) area experience chronic water shortages. There is one borehole in the compound that supplies four public water standpipes. One standpipe serves an average of325 households. Water is however available from these points at certain times of the day. Often the borehole breaks down leaving residents without water for days at a time. Kamanga compound was designated the improved water availability (IWA) area. Irish Aid, an international NGO, has completely revamped the water supply system in this compound. There are 6 boreholes and these supply 14 public water standpipes. Each standpipe serves an average of 125 households. Residents of the IWA area are able to draw unlimited quantities of water throughout the day. On average, a resident of the PW A area takes 70 minutes to draw one 20 litre water load, as compared to 20 minutes for his/her counterpart living in the IWA area. Households in the two compound were randomly sampled (124 in PWA and 120 in IWA areas respectively). The study findings indicate that the amount of water drawn for daily use by households in the PWA area (101.45 litreS) was not significantly different from that collected by households in the IWA area (98.92 litres). One week diarrhoea prevalence was not significantly different in the two study areas. Over half of the index children had diarrhoea in the one week prior to the survey (50.8% and 53.3% in the PWA and IWA area respectively). The prevalence levels peaked in the 24-35 month age group and then declined by over 50% in the older age categories. Parasitic infection rates were significantly lower in the IWA area as compared to the PWA area (11.7% and 21.8% respectively). This was likely because in the IWA area children were dewormed more regularly than their counterparts in the PWA area. The daily dietary and caloric protein intake of index children (which were 1774 kcal and 39.7 gms protein in the PW A area and 1681 kcal and 34.5 gms protein in the IWA area) were higher than the levels recommended by FAO for children in this age group. The major nutritional problems of the study children were stunting and underweight and though not significantly different, the malnutrition rates were higher in the IWA area than in the PWA area (44.2% and 35% of children in the IWA area and 42% and 28.2% of children in the PWA area were stunted and underweight respectively).