The influence of water and sanitation use knowledge, practices and perceptions on health status of residents of Maragua Town, Kenya
Njomo, Doris Wairimu
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This study was undertaken to find out whether knowledge, practices and perceptions of safe of water and sanitation influence health status. It was carried out in Maragua town, an area characterized by high rate of water and sanitation-related illness compared to other districts in Central Province. Specifically, the study had the following objectives: - To determine whether those residents with adequate knowledge of safe use of water and sanitation have better health status than with inadequate knowledge. - To examine whether those residents with positive perceptions of safe use of water and sanitation have better health status than those with negative perceptions. The study was carried out using a sample of 266 respondents, while data collected was done through survey method, structured method, structured interviews, questionnaires and supplementary data from documents. Forty-six observations were also carried out and photographs taken. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and the chi-square technique for relationships. The study established that lack of adequate knowledge of safe water use was associated with frequent experience of diarrhoe and lack of adequate knowledge of sanitation use was associated with frequent experience of typhoid. The study also established that among those residents with poor practices of water use (treatment and storage) there was more frequent experience of typhoid and among those with poor practices of sanitation use (inadequate use of toilet facility, use of open places as toilet facilities and lack of washing hands after toilet use) there were more frequent experiences of stomachache, skin disease, diarrhoe and typhoid. The results also indicated that adequacy of amount of water fetched ( a water use perception) does not influence the health status of the residents and that more of those residents who perceive baby waste tobe risky to health wash their hands more freguently after disposing off baby waste. The study concluded that those residents with adequate knowledge, good practices and positive perceptions of water and sanitation use have better health status. The study made the following recommendations based on key findings: - The governemt should recruit additional qualified health personnel whose duty would be to provide regular health education on water and sanitation use. -Maragua Town Council should install water storage tanks and provide treated water to residents in order to minimize water and sanitation related illnesses. - The District Development Committee should put in place measures that help rehabilitate and preserve local water sources and should also encourage residents to construct and maintain their own water facilities.