May 7, 2013 by WASHplus
Sanitation in Nepal: Links to Nutrition and Research Priorities, 2012. Patrick Webb, et al. Tufts University, USAID.
In Nepal, diarrhea and other morbidity conditions related to poor sanitation and hygiene continue to be major causes of childhood illness and death. The 2006 NDHS reported that 12% of children under 5 suffer from diarrhea (with 5% dying), while the 2011 NDHS suggested that conditions have not substantially improved, with 14% of children having had diarrhea in the 2 weeks preceding the survey (MOHP 2011). Indeed, as of 2010, roughly 40% of Nepal’s rural households use a bush or open fields for defecation–down from 50% half a decade ago, but still a huge problem (MOHP 2011).
According to the World Health Organization, “malnutrition in all its forms increases the risk of disease and early death [and] nutritional status is compromised where people are exposed to high levels of infection due to unsafe and insufficient…inadequate sanitation.” (WHO 2012b) Diarrhea is not the only pathway through which poor sanitation impacts nutritional status, but it is one of the most important mediators. Individuals suffering from diarrhea cannot fully benefit fully from nutrients consumed due to inadequate absorption and losses through stools (and fevers impairing appetite), as well as dehydration. At the same time, undernourished children are more susceptible to, and less able to recover from, infectious diseases like diarrheal diseases.