Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Children affected by severe drought in a rural community in the central highlands of Sri Lanka

Download

A- A+
Alt. Display

Original Articles

Children affected by severe drought in a rural community in the central highlands of Sri Lanka

Authors:

Manouri P Senanayake ,

Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, LK
About Manouri
Senior Professor in Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo
X close

M D C J P Jayamanna

Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo
About M D C J P

Research Assistant, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo

X close

Abstract

Introduction: Children are particularly vulnerable to climate change. This case study describes effects of shortages in irrigation and drinking water on children of a rural village in Sri Lanka.

Objective: To assess children’s health and describe the coping strategies at family and community level in a village seriously challenged by water shortage.

 

Method: A community-based cross-sectional study was carried out in Serupitiya, a village in the eastern slopes of Nuwara Eliya district identified in 2012 as one of the worst drought affected communities in Sri Lanka. After a six month period of drought, data was gathered using an interviewer administered questionnaire from 68 households (out of total 207) selected by systematic random sampling. Children <12 years underwent medical examination and nutritional assessment. Focus group discussions identified practices and adaptations to water shortage at community level.

Results: In the 68 households 98 children were <12 years with a male: female ratio of 1:1. Of the 98 children, 49% were 5-12 years, 42% 1-5 years and 9% infants. Entire population faced severe economic hardships. Parental education was only up to primary school. There were frequent respiratory infections and dust-related cough in 63%, “recurrent fever” in 69%, dermatological complaints in 21% and diarrhoeal illness in 21%. There were no dengue infections and no increase in vector borne diseases. There was no mortality among infants or under-fives. Disturbed nights with “not settling at night” occurred in 80%, “waking for water to quench thirst” in 40% and “due to discomfort of room temperature” in 40%.

Increased household stress levels caused irritability, apathy, short tempers and increased quarrels among

adults in over 80% of families. Development was age appropriate in 95%; schooling was uninterrupted and drop-out rate <12 years was zero. Severe acute malnutrition was present in 12% of 5-12 year olds and 5% of 1-5 year olds. There was a statistically significant increase of malnutrition with age (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Main child health issues were protein energy malnutrition (PEM), skin sepsis, poor oral hygiene, respiratory symptoms and disturbed sleep at night. School aged children had significantly more severe acute PEM than preschoolers. Preventive health care strategies provided to 0- 5 year olds had effectively prevented PEM and micronutrient deficiency in under-fives.

(Key words: water shortage; child health; climate change)

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 2014; 43(1): 23-26

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljch.v43i1.6657

How to Cite: Senanayake, M.P. and Jayamanna, M.D.C.J.P., 2014. Children affected by severe drought in a rural community in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 43(1), pp.23–26. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljch.v43i1.6657
Published on 07 Mar 2014.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)

    comments powered by Disqus