Lord McColl of Dulwich – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for International Development

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord McColl of Dulwich on 2016-01-14.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the relationship between malnutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Baroness Verma

DFID commissioned the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to undertake a review of the evidence on the links between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition in 2012. The review concluded that there was good evidence that WASH has an impact on under-nutrition. At the very basic level, the act of infant and child feeding needs good personal hygiene – hand washing with soap and water, plus good food hygiene. In addition, water is important in that it is generally required to prepare complementary foods. It needs to come from a safe source and then be collected, transported and stored safely. The living environment of infants has to be free from faecal contamination to minimise the risk of ingesting pathogens or coming into contact with intestinal worms.

This review is currently being updated drawing on a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 which estimated that 50% of child under-nutrition is associated with repeated diarrhoea or intestinal worm infections as a result of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene. There is increasing evidence that chronic diarrheal disease may inhibit nutrient absorption even if sufficient food is consumed. This latter condition referred to as Environmental Enteropathy is currently one of the subjects of a large randomised control trial being conducted in Zimbabwe with DFID support.