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Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Practices Associated with Nutritional Status of Under-Five Children in Semi-Pastoral Communities Tanzania

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  • 1 School of Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Tengeru, Arusha, Tanzania;
  • | 2 Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Undernutrition among under-five children is a public health concern in developing countries and has been linked with poor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices. This study aimed at assessing WASH practices and its association with nutritional status of under-five children in semi-pastoral communities of Arusha. The study was cross-sectional in design. Mother–child pairs from 310 households in four villages of Monduli and Longido were involved. Weight and height of children were measured using weighing scale and length/height board, respectively. Children’s age was recorded using clinic cards. Hemoglobin level of each child was tested using Hemo Cue® Hb 201 + photometer (HemoCue AB, Ängelholm, Sweden) machine. Structured questionnaire was used to gather information on WASH, child morbidity, demographic, and sociocultural characteristics. Prevalence of stunted, underweight, wasted, anemia, and diarrhea were 31.6%, 15.5%, 4.5% 61.2%, and 15.5%, respectively. Children with diarrhea 2 weeks preceding the survey (P = 0.004), children using surface water for domestic purposes (P < 0.001), and those with uneducated mothers (P = 0.001) had increased risk of being stunted and underweight. Children introduced to complementary foods before 6 months of age (P = 0.02) or belonging to polygamous families (P = 0.03) had increased risk of being stunted. Consumption of cow’s milk that is not boiled (P = 0.05) or being a boy (P = 0.03) was associated with underweight. Prevalence of undernutrition among under-five children in the population under study was alarming and it could be associated with poor WASH practices and other sociocultural factors. This study underlines the importance of incorporating WASH strategies in formulation of interventions targeting on promotion of nutrition and disease prevention in pastoral communities.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Neema Kassim, Department of Food Biotechnology and Nutritional Sciences (FBNS), School of Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering (LiSBE), Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Tengeru, Arusha, Tanzania. E-mail: neema.kassim@nm-aist.ac.tz

Financial support: We thank The United Republic of Tanzania for funding this study and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology for academic and financial support during the research period.

Authors’ addresses: Hoyce Amini Mshida and Neema Kassim, Department of Food Biotechnology and Nutritional Sciences (FBNS), School of Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering (LiSBE), Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tengeru, Arusha, Tanzania, E-mails: mshidah@nm-aist.ac.tz and neema.kassim@nm-aist.ac.tz. Emmanuel Mpolya, Department of Global Health and Biomedical Sciences, School of Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering (LiSBE), Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tengeru, Arusha, Tanzania, E-mail: emmanuel.mpolya@nm-aist.ac.tz. Martin Kimanya, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, E-mail: martin.kimanya@nm-aist.ac.tz.

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