2022 Volume 6 Issue 1 Pages 23-38
Previous studies have argued that unimproved sanitation and poor water quality have an impact on important health outcomes, especially diarrhea in children. To solve these problems, the installation of sanitation facilities has often been implemented. However, few follow-up studies have been conducted after the installation of sanitation facilities in hunter-gatherer societies. The current status of the sanitation facilities, water quality, child health, and the relationships between water quality and diarrhea in children in a hunter-gatherer, semi-sedentary village was studied through field investigations. The village of approximately 91 residents was located in the Eastern Region of Cameroon. For this study, the following were conducted: i) interviews with participants on the usage and value of sanitation facilities; ii) an observational survey of sanitation facilities; iii) water quality testing; iv) interviews regarding diarrhea in children; and v) anthropometric measurements of children. The results revealed that more than half the participants defecating outside of sanitation facilities, although they had a positive perception of them. Furthermore, there were problems with each sanitation facility in the village in terms of structure, accessibility, privacy, and hygiene. In addition, all drinking water (from the village water source and that stored in houses) tested positive for total coliforms, and approximately 50% of the children in participants had symptoms of diarrhea. There was, however, no clear association between the total coliform count and diarrhea in children suggesting that children might have been infected through other routes. Despite limitations regarding age estimation and participant numbers, the nutritional status of the participating children was generally good. Appropriate ways to introduce sanitation facilities to the local population, taking into account the values and culture of people living in hunter-gatherer societies, needs to be explored. Furthermore, improving sanitation facilities and access to safe water, and investigating other factors related to diarrhea incidence are needed.