Effect of Water Supply on Child Survival. A Study of Qualitative and Quantitative Data from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

Stéphanie Dos Santos, Université de Montréal
Thomas LeGrand, Université de Montréal

This study uses longitudinal life-history data to examine factors affecting child survival in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. It focuses especially on the controversial role of improvements in water supply on infant and child mortality. Qualitative data collected in 2003 is also employed to better understand domestic uses of water and its social representations. In event-history models, as expected, mother’s education is strongly associated with lower child mortality risk and captures the most of the effect of water supply. Qualitative findings explain why we failed to discover an effect of the availability of piped water on childhood mortality. In particular, hygienic knowledge as a product of formal education is discussed. Indeed, while education may be necessary to gain biomedical knowledge, it may nevertheless be insufficient to significantly alter daily hygienic water-use practices, which are more the result of an acculturation process to new ways of thinking and behaving.

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Presented in Session 25: Experimental Methods in Demographic Research