Municipal water quantities and health in Nunavut households: An exploratory case study in coral Harbour, Nunavut, Canada

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Background. Access to adequate quantities of water has a protective effect on human health and well-being. Despite this, public health research and interventions are frequently focused solely on water quality, and international standards for domestic water supply minimums are often overlooked or unspecified. This trend is evident in Inuit and other Arctic communities even though numerous transmissible diseases and bacterium infections associated with inadequate domestic water quantities are prevalent. Objectives. Our objective was to explore the pathways by which the trucked water distribution systems being used in remote northern communities are impacting health at the household level, with consideration given to the underlying social and environmental determinants shaping health in the region. Methods. Using a qualitative case study design, we conducted 37 interviews (28 residents, 9 key informants) and a review of government water documents to investigate water usage practices and perspectives. These data were thematically analysed to understand potential health risks in Arctic communities and households. Results. Each resident receives an average of 110 litres of municipal water per day. Fifteen of 28 households reported experiencing water shortages at least once per month. Of those 15, most were larger households (5 people or more) with standard sized water storage tanks. Water shortages and service interruptions limit the ability of some households to adhere to public health advice. The households most resilient, or able to cope with domestic water supply shortages, were those capable of retrieving their own drinking water directly from lake and river sources. Residents with extended family and neighbours, whom they can rely on during shortages, were also less vulnerable to municipal water delays. Conclusions. The relatively low in-home water quantities observed in Coral Harbour, Nunavut, appear adequate for some families. Those living in overcrowded households, however, are accessing water in quantities more typically seen in water insecure developing countries. We recommend several practical interventions and revisions to municipal water supply systems. © 2014 Kiley Daley et al.




Daley, K., Castleden, H., Jamieson, R., Furgal, C., & Ell, L. (2014). Municipal water quantities and health in Nunavut households: An exploratory case study in coral Harbour, Nunavut, Canada. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 73.

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