Commenced in January 2007
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Time Fetching Water and Maternal Childcare Practices: Comparative Study of Women with Children Living in Ethiopia and Malawi

Authors: Davod Ahmadigheidari, Isabel Alvarez, Kate Sinclair, Marnie Davidson, Patrick Cortbaoui, Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez

Abstract:

The burden of collecting water tends to disproportionately fall on women and girls in low-income countries. Specifically, women spend between one to eight hours per day fetching water for domestic use in Sub-Saharan Africa. While there has been research done on the global time burden for collecting water, it has been mainly focused on water quality parameters; leaving the relationship between water fetching and health outcomes understudied. There is little available evidence regarding the relationship between water fetching and maternal child care practices. The main objective of this study was to help fill the aforementioned gap in the literature. Data from two surveys in Ethiopia and Malawi conducted by CARE Canada in 2016-2017 were used. Descriptive statistics indicate that women were predominantly responsible for collecting water in both Ethiopia (87%) and Malawi (99%) respectively, with the majority spending more than 30 minutes per day on water collection. With regards to child care practices, in both countries, breastfeeding was relatively high (77% and 82%, respectively); and treatment for malnutrition was low (15% and 8%, respectively). However, the same consistency was not found for weighing; in Ethiopia only 16% took their children for weighting in contrast to 94% in Malawi. These three practices were summed to create one variable for regressions analyses. Unadjusted logistic regression findings showed that only in Ethiopia was time fetching water significantly associated with child care practices. Once adjusted for covariates, this relationship was no longer found to be significant. Adjusted logistic regressions also showed that the factors that did influence child care practices differed slightly between the two countries. In Ethiopia, a lack of access to community water supply (OR= 0.668; P=0.010), poor attitudes towards gender equality (OR= 0.608; P=0.001), no access to land and (OR=0.603; P=0.000), significantly decreased a women’s odd of using positive childcare practices. Notably, being young women between 15-24 years (OR=2.308; P=0.017), and 25-29 (OR=2.065; P=0.028) increased probability of using positive childcare practices. Whereas in Malawi, higher maternal age, low decision-making power, significantly decreased a women’s odd of using positive childcare practices. In conclusion, this study found that even though amount of time spent by women fetching water makes a difference for childcare practices, it is not significantly related to women’s child care practices when controlling the covariates. Importantly, women’s age contributes to child care practices in Ethiopia and Malawi.

Keywords: Ethiopia, Malawi, time fetching water, community water supply, women’s child care practices

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