IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 12534: A Qualitative Exploration in Causes of Water Insecurity Experiences, and Gender and Nutritional Consequences in South-Punjab, Pakistan (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Although water insecurity has been discussed in general, its impacts on mothers’ physical and mental health, and infants’ and young children’s feeding (IYCF), has largely been ignored. This study explores household water insecurity experiences and their association with optimal health and nutrition of women and children in the Rajanpur district of Punjab Province. Using focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informants (KIIs) interviews from an area with high maternal-child malnutrition prevalence, a qualitative study was conducted to describe local experiences of water acquirement and arrangement, and of the consequences of water insecurity. The findings highlight that rural Western marginalized populations of the Rajanpur district rely on brackish, canal, or flood surface water as the water supply is absent, which intensifies mothers’ work burden and stress, and often makes them victims of violence, stigma, and sickness. Water fetching impacts women in unforeseen ways, impacting the psychosocial and physical health of mothers engaged in maternal breastfeeding. Water insecurity, originally rooted in regional disparities, compounds with gender inequities, which leads to maternal stress and child sickness. Justice in water resources is imperative and urgent in the deprived South of Punjab province for improving public health nutrition.