William & Mary

Meredith Boulos: Maternal Capacities in Fodome Ahor, Ghana: Breastfeeding and Sanitation

I carried out my 1693 Murray project in Fodome Ahor, Ghana, a rural village in the Volta region, near the border with Togo. The purpose of the project was to utilize ethnographic interviews to elucidate the social dimensions surrounding hand washing behaviors, toilet availability for young children, and perception of childhood diarrheal disease in order to qualitatively measure maternal hygiene efficacy in this realm of childcare in Fodome Ahor, Ghana. Research was conducted with the intention of using findings to inform effective water and sanitation health interventions in the community. Because diarrheal disease is connected with undernutrition, exclusive breastfeeding and supplemental feeding were explored in order to gain a more holistic view of infant nutrition in the community.Meredith Boulos

37 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with mothers of children under six in Fodome Ahor. Interviews elucidated maternal understandings and practices surrounding water, hygiene and sanitation, and social factors that impact child health and maternal feeding practices. Data analysis on the interview transcripts revealed limited collective understanding of the causes of diarrheal disease, behavioral inconsistencies between maternal hygiene and hygiene care of children, substantial variability in hygiene behaviors for children, and a tendency to defer to local wisdom where hygiene education is lacking. Based on collected information, it would likely be helpful to change public health information dispersal in Fodome Ahor and comparable locations from a practice-based approach that emphasizes memorization to a knowledge-based curriculum that instills a germ theory concept, in order to equip mothers with the ability to adapt appropriate sanitation care for infants to a multitude of circumstances, and to encourage ownership and prioritization of water and sanitation focused interventions that take place there.