Water quality perceptions and water-related practices among African refugee women : a qualitative study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Love O. Odetola (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Sharon Morrison

Abstract: Many in and out of the country presume that those residing in the United States have universal access to safe drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that “the United States is fortunate to have one of the safest public drinking water systems.” Yet many mistrust tap water in the United States. Recent national estimates suggest households that mistrust their drinking water spend over 9% of their income on bottled water and other water replacement efforts. Studies highlighting immigrants’ knowledge, perception, and water usage have mostly focused on Hispanic groups. African refugees, for example, represent one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the U.S. Yet little is known about them on this topic. How do African refugee women perceive their tap water quality? What are the water safety practices in which they engage? How do they use tap water during pregnancy and postpartum stages? Building on 5 years of ethnographic work, this qualitative study adopted a constructivist research paradigm to address these questions. I conducted key informant interviews with twelve African refugee women. For analysis, I adopted Airhihenbuwa’s PEN-3 cultural model. The results indicated that pre-resettlement enablers (i.e., health professionals, education system, resettlement agencies) and nurturers (i.e., extended family and neighborhood influences) informed their water quality perceptions and practices in the U.S. Their tap water quality perceptions and water safety practices centered on microbial contamination, rather than heavy metal pollutants such as lead. There were also unique cultural water practices, enablers, and nurturers critical to refugee women’s pregnancy and postpartum experiences. The study provides implications for public health educators, researchers, resettlement agencies, maternal-child health specialists, and policy advocates.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Africa, Immigrant, Postpartum, Pregnancy, Refugee, Water
Women refugees $z Africa $x Attitudes
Women refugees $z United States $x Attitudes
Drinking water $z United States

Email this document to