The importance safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities
The Government of Kenya, in the fight against water borne diseases, introduced a public health intervention in primary schools. The importance of water in the diet is taught to school children from ten years of age. The effectiveness of the intervention has not yet been assessed. The study was carried out in Westlands Division of Nairobi urban area. The children were sampled from the private, public and non-formal schools; to represent the wealthy, middle class and poor socio-economic classes respectively. Multi-step random sampling method was used. Dietary intake, handling practices and water quality were investigated in a crossectional study using a structured questionnaires, 24hour recall forms, photographs, and laboratory analysis of microbiological water quality. Findings would be used to evaluate the intervention and for epidemiological risk assessments. The collective mean intake was 0.54 L/day. Children from public schools consumed the highest amount (0.67 L/day); followed by those from non formal schools who consumed 0.58 L/day while those from private schools recorded the lowest intake of 0.39 L/day. The means were not significantly different (p > 0.05). The boys consumed a higher mean amount (0.6L/day) than the girls (0.5 L/day). There was considerable variation between the intakes. The mean differences were not significant (p > 0.05). Most of the water was from public taps (32.2%) and taps inside the house (32.2%). Other sources were bottled water (23%), borehole (5.3%) and vendor supplied water (1.4%). The differences were significant (p < 0.05). Seventy two percent of children treated the water before drinking. Twenty seven percent of children did not treat their water either because it was bottled or they considered it ‘ready to drink’. The children from public schools had the highest percentage of those who treated water. The differences were significant (p < 0.05). The most common treatment method was boiling (84.8%) followed by chemical methods (7.8%). Other methods were commercial filtering and dispensers. The differences were significant (p<0.05). Parents and family (50.2%) had the most influence on the quantity and quality of water the children drank, 45.9% attributed it to themselves, 2.5% to teachers and 1.4% to their friends. The differences were significant (p < 0.05).