Use of Anthropometric Measures to Analyze How Sources of Water and Sanitation Affect Children’s Health in Nigeria

EfD Discussion Paper
1 January 2011

We used 2008 DHS data sets to construct child height- and weight-for-age Z-scores and used regression analysis to analyze the effects of different sources of drinking water and sanitation on child health outcomes in Nigeria. We also calculated the probability of a child being stunted or underweight as our measure of malnutrition among children aged 0–59 months.

Our results show that both child height and weight Z-scores are positive and significantly related to access to borehole and piped water, and negative and significant for well water. The probabilities of a child being stunted or underweight are both significantly lower for children drinking borehole or piped water, whereas well water has a positive and significant effect on these measures of child health. Children’s access to flush toilets is positive and significantly related to child height- and weight-for-age Z-scores, but the same measures are negatively related to children’s use of pit latrines. In line with this, the probability of a child being stunted or underweight is negative and significantly related to access to flush toilets, but positively related to pit latrines. Our results suggest that increasing access to, or providing, safe drinking water and flush toilets for households will significantly reduce the high incidence of malnutrition and water-borne diseases among children in Nigeria and should be a high priority for policymakers.

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Publication | 23 May 2011