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The effect of interventions to improve water quality and supply, provide sanitation and promote handwashing with soap on physical growth in children

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The Cochrane Review on WASH and Childhood Undernutrition was launched in November 2013. This study was funded by DFID through the SHARE Research Consortium and provides a definitive synthesis of the current evidence relating improvements in drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to childhood undernutrition.

The evidence suggests that WASH interventions confer a benefit on growth in children under five years of age. These findings make an invaluable contribution to the area of child health. Almost 220 million children under the age of five years in low income countries suffer from chronic or acute undernutrition, which increases the risks of illness and death in childhood. Research and experience have shown that food-based interventions to tackle this problem cannot alone provide the solution, pointing to the importance of environmental factors. By consolidating and synthesising available research on the links between WASH and under nutrition this review provides an initial evidence base in favour of putting greater emphasis on WASH in nutrition interventions and lays the groundwork additional research in this area.

Download the Cochrane Review

Date: 15 May 2014