Shalean has spent the past few weeks traveling from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya and Nigeria to train interviewers and initiate data collection in each of these sites.
In early June, data collection began in Kahemba, DRC, a rural community approximately a two-day drive from the capital city of Kinshasa. In the Kahemba, our water insecurity module will be used alongside a larger nutrition assessment and in conjunction with a neurodevelopment study of Konzo in the area. Konzo is a crippling disease resulting from cyanide toxicity from consuming improperly washed bitter cassava, a staple food. The water situation in Kahmemba is complicated. People are often forced to travel great distances over rough terrain to collect poor quality water, and physical disability from Konzo makes fetching water burdensome. Without sufficient water, washing cassava becomes more difficult, further contributing to the prevalence of Konzo in the community. Working alongside the Ministry of Health, the Kahemba team is surveying households about their water situation. We hope that through the water insecurity interviews, we will be able to better understand how water insecurity impacts the health of this community.
In mid-June, training took place in Kenya. Our previous work in Kenya allowed us to develop the validated scale that we are now using globally. We have found in previous work that acquiring water is challenging among pregnant and lactating women in this area, and in this study, we are hoping to expand our scope to understand how water insecurity affects households more broadly. The proposed work in Kenya will be coupled with a pilot intervention study of Moringa, which will allow us to better parse the links between water insecurity and agricultural productivity.
In late June and early July, data collection began in the urban community of Idi Araba, in Lagos, Nigeria. Data collection is occurring during the rainy season, and interviewers are hard at work collecting qualitative and quantitative data. Many of the residents in Idi Araba rely on sachet water or water vendors (pictured here) for their daily household water needs.
We are grateful for the work of our study teams and are thankful for the time that participants in these communities have spent with us to share their experiences with water insecurity.