Perceptions of household drinking water across a variety of water distribution systems in three First Nations in Manitoba

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Anderson, Kristy
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Half of households on First Nations reserves in the Province of Manitoba do not have access to piped water, but rather rely on cisterns or wells, or have no running water (e.g., buckets). The purpose of this research was to assess whether First Nations perceptions of water is dependent on the type of water distribution system associated with the household. From July 2017 to October 2018, household surveys were developed in collaboration with each of three First Nations in Manitoba (Community A, B and C) and participants were recruited by going door-to-door in each community. Using a total of 273 responses, the study applied a factor analysis and found that four factors explained the majority of the underlying variance among survey answers: Safety, Sufficiency, Acceptability and Human Health. Households with cisterns reported significantly more safety and sufficiency concerns compared to households with piped water. Deductive and inductive analysis of open-ended survey reponses identified how households were describing their concerns. Households with safety concerns described finding contaminants in their water (e.g., dirt) and some households expressed concerns surrounding insufficient community resources to fix the water safety problems (e.g., additional water cleaning equipment and staff are needed). Households lacking sufficient water described not being able to keep up with their basic family needs (e.g., cleaning, laundry and bathing). Descriptions of negative health concerns caused by the household’s water largely included descriptions of gastrointestional illness symptoms or skin irritations. Importantly, the research also examined whether survey participants had full access to water, as defined by the United Nation’s General Assembly Resolution 64/292, The Human Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation, A/RES/64/292 (28 July 2010). The analysis indicated that 60.8% of households were not able to access water as described in this Human Right Resolution especially households with cisterns or no running water. There is an urgent need for improved water services for First Nations in Manitoba.
Human right to drinking water, First Nation, Human right, Water access, Drinking water system, Cistern, No running water, United Nations, Piped water, Well, Water in First Nation