Health and Drinking Water Supply Vulnerabilities to Climate V ...

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Abstract

The objectives of the study are to understand the relationship among climate variability, waterborne disease, and the drinking water supply vulnerabilities in coastal and drought-prone areas of Bangladesh. The study used both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitative data were collected by conducting stakeholder interviews and focus group discussion. Quantitative data were collected using survey and from hospital records. The study was conducted in three sites, one in a drought-prone area and two in coastal areas. Correlation analysis provided the relationship among climate variables, health outcomes, and water supply system. The regression analysis was used to determine the health vulnerabilities of the communities with time. Temperature, rainfall, humidity, and hot and cold days per year adversely affected the groundwater table and functionality of water technologies in both coastal and drought-prone sites, which in turn affects the accessibility and quality of water and health. Diarrhea, dysentery, and stomachaches and skin diseases were found in all sites more than the usual number, whereas, jaundice and typhoid are distinct in drought-prone areas only. Strong correlations of these health outcomes with different climatic and water supply variables were observed with different magnitude. Regression analysis forecasts annual increases of 5% diarrhea, 3% stomachache, 5% skin diseases cases in coastal sites and 5% diarrhea, 3% skin disease, 3% stomachache, and 2% jaundice cases in drought-prone sites annually over the next decade. The level of significance of linear association was found to be high only for diarrheal cases. Communities are becoming more vulnerable due to climate-change-related increases in waterborne diseases and impacts on water supply. Interventions are recommended to increase the resilience of water supply systems and to reduce vulnerabilities.