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Investigating water interruptions, household improvement of drinking water, and diarrhoea among children under five in South Africa.

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Diarrhoeal disease is one of the leading causes of death among children under five (WHO, 2019). The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors associated with diarrhoea in children under five, particularly household water interruptions and the household water treatment (HHWT). The first objective of this study was to investigate the association between water interruptions, HHWT, environmental (toilet facilities and source of drinking water), personal illness control (disposal of stools and handwashing), socioeconomic (education, occupation, and wealth) and demographic (maternal age, marital status and place of residence) factors; and diarrhoea among children under five. The second objective was to investigate socioeconomic and demographic factors associated with HHWT. The study is quantitative in nature. A secondary data analysis of the South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016 was conducted, this was the third Demographic and Health Survey to be conducted in South Africa (NDoH, Stats SA, SAMRC & ICF, 2017). The survey consisted of a nationally representative sample of approximately 15 000 selected dwelling units (NDoH et al., 2017). Of the 13 000 occupied households, data was collected in face-to-face interviews by trained interviewers from 11 000 households (NDoH et al., 2017). The results of the study revealed that water interruptions (AOR 2.14, 95% CI: 1.48-3.09) and mother living with a partner (AOR 1.58, 95% CI: 1.06-2.34) were significant predictors of diarrhoea among children under five. The results also revealed that maternal occupation, specifically clerical (AOR 1.93, 95% CI: 1.04-3.57) and services (AOR 3.12, 95% CI: 1.82-5.33) were significant predictors of employing any water treatment at a household level. In order to reduce diarrhoeal disease among children under five and subsequently child mortality, water interruptions need to be reduced to an absolute minimum and household water treatment needs to be more widely employed alongside better water handling and storage practices. In addition, more people need to be educated on the importance of ensuring that water is clean and safe prior to consumption.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.