Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the relationship between household drinking water quality and irrigation and child nutrition using primary household survey data and microbiological water sample testings in two rural districts of Ethiopia. Anthropometric measures such as height-for-age z-scores (HAZ), weight-for-age z-scores (WAZ), and weight-for-height z-scores (WHZ) were used to measure stunting, underweight, and wasting, respectively. Our survey results show that 41% of the children are stunted, 26% underweight, and 8% wasted. More than 58% of household's stored drinking water samples were also contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria. The multivariate regression results suggest that irrigation farming and on-premises water sources are significantly associated with lower HAZ, while uncontaminated household stored drinking water quality is correlated with higher WAZ. The results also reveal that dietary diversity score and the number of antenatal care visits by the primary caretaker are statistically significant predictors of child nutritional status. These findings, however, cast doubt on the hypothesis that irrigated agriculture exclusively has a positive effect on child nutrition outcomes.

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