The Impact of a Unicef-Assisted Rural Water Project on the Prevalence of Guinea Worm Disease in Asa, Kwara State, Nigeria

Luke D. EdungbolaHealth Sciences University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

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Susan J. WattsDepartment of Anthropology and Geography, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island 02908

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Timothy O. AlabiUNICEF-Assisted Rural Water Project, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ilorin, Nigeria

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Anthony B. BelloHealth Sciences University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

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This paper demonstrates that protected water supplies, in the form of boreholes, can reduce the prevalence of dracunculiasis (guinea worm disease) in affected communities from a point prevalence of ≥50% to 0% or near 0% within 3 years of intervention. Studies in Nigeria show that boreholes sited within a village and used exclusively for drinking water are most effective, while less accessible or malfunctioning boreholes have a less dramatic impact on prevalence. In contrast to the situation in villages served with boreholes, the prevalence of guinea worm in the unserved villages remained almost unchanged. The rapid benefits of protected rural water supplies and the decline of dracunculiasis, including the rise in school enrollment and fall in the rate of school absenteeism, are highlighted together with other socioeconomic benefits.

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