The Impact of Water on Health and Ill-Health in a Sub- Saharan Wetland: Exploring both Sides of a Coin

Anthonj, C. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


As sources of water and nutrition and places from which humans derive their livelihoods, while at the same time exposing users to disease-causing microorganisms and invertebrates, wetlands can be both a blessing and curse. In such often extensively used environments, the role of water, sanitation and hygiene requires evaluation in terms of disease prevention and transmission.

This study presents a risk analysis of self-reported disease burden, drawing on data gathered from 400 households in rural Kenyan wetland. Numerous wetland-use-related, socio-economic and demographic risk factors, as well as health-related and behavioural factors, are associated with self-reported abdominal complaints, fever, eye and skin conditions in univariate and multivariate regression models, with symptoms serving as proxies for diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid fever, malaria, and trachoma, all of which are real health threats in wetlands.

The findings indicate that the contraction of symptoms mainly takes place in the domestic domain, whereas the occupational risks play a minor role in the investigated population. Unsafe water source, little or discontinuous water supply, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, as well as poor environmental hygiene are high risk factors for the contraction of symptoms. Safe water supply, good sanitation and frequent cleaning of latrine, as well as frequent handwashing, on the other side, are the main protective factors, and so are the prevention of stagnant water near the home and the use of mosquito bed nets. Moreover, the data suggests pastoralists to contract less symptoms.

Concurring with the current literature, it is not necessarily the occupational proximity to water and occupational characteristics that determine the contraction of diseases in wetlands. Rather are the role of human behavioural practices in the domestic domain, cultural aspects and health beliefs underlined in the exposure as well as the prevention of any sort of water-related diseases.
Period3 Jul 2017
Event title17th International Medical Geography Symposium
Event typeConference
LocationAngers, France
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Diarrhoeal diseases
  • SDG 6
  • Health risk assessment
  • Malaria
  • Pastoralism
  • Syndromic surveilance
  • Wetlands