Designing a Mixed-Methods Approach for Collaborative Local Water Security: Findings from a Kenyan Case Study
The purpose of this research was to develop and pilot a mixed-methods-coupled systems (human and physical) approach to understand strengths, challenges and health impacts associated with water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) in a rural Kenyan community. The pilot was undertaken in partnership with three of eight geographically separate neighbourhoods in a rural Maasai community. Qualitative and quantitative data represented the condition of physical infrastructure, water quality, WaSH-related practices, perceived health and incidents of waterborne disease. As evidenced through this case study, sanitary inspections are necessary but insufficient to identify potable water supplies, although they are good indicators of non-potable supplies. Furthermore, results underscored that even within a single community, differences in location and access to resources can lead to very different WaSH-related practices and perceptions. While focus on clinical health records and water quality and infrastructure are standard methods, the integration of these with community practices and perceptions provides a more complete foundation on which to build infrastructure and behaviour-change interventions. In melding community and scientific knowledge, intervention options can be more appropriately, and therefore sustainably, designed to reflect the social and cultural, as well as the physical, needs of the community.
KeywordsCommunity Health Kenya Mixed-methods WaSH Water security
The authors are grateful to Dr. Diana Karanja and the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Il Ngwesi Group Ranch for their support and insights.
This study was funded by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) core research funds (Schuster-Wallace, former Programme Officer [Water-Health], UNU-INWEH) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant program (Dickson; RGPIN/250121-2013).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the McMaster Research Ethics Board (Cert. # 2011148) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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