Thu, 1 Jul 2010
Research into the effect of water carrying on children in South Africa conducted by Academic in AHP has been flagged for attention by the United States Agency for International Development.
Research into the effect of water carrying on children in South Africa conducted by Ms Jo Geere, Dr Fiona Poland and Professor Sally Hartley, all School of Allied Health Professions, University of East Anglia, with Professor Paul Jagals and Michael Mokoena (both Tshwane University of Technology South Africa), has been flagged for attention by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The report of research into child health issues in South Africa resulting from restricted access to water, where children were observed carrying water loads as heavy as three quarters of their body weight, has been included in the USAID June citations of articles and reports.
The report followed pilot research with children in Limpopo Province, South Africa, to explore the children’s perceptions of the impact of water carrying on their own health. The report’s findings showed that children could express positive health related outcomes, such as increased availability of water, but they also highlighted negatives including injury risks and experiences of back or neck pain. These negative effects have wider implications, not just for cost of health provision, but for children’s participation in education, social interaction and, in time, their ability to work effectively and meaningfully in adulthood.
Jo Geere, who, with Michael Mokoena and Paul Jagals conducted fieldwork in South Africa, said, “The effects of carrying water loads has not been previously researched to any great degree and I was pleased to see that USAID had drawn its readership’s attention to our work. These children were able to articulate a clear link between water carrying and health issues. I hope our research will help to guide and influence government organisations and NGOs to think even more carefully about water provision, its access points and maintenance policies. In our study, we found boys and girls between the ages of six to sixteen making up to seven trips per day carrying loads weighing up to forty four pounds. We found this is not just about providing more access points it’s also about where they are positioned and how they are maintained. Without careful water access strategies, individual and community health problems, also leading to related economic problems, will persist and constrain these areas from breaking out of the cycle of poverty.” The team is planning more research into water carrying and musculoskeletal disorders.
The study was funded by the South African Water Research Commission.