Leslie Brianne Ford

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania State U.

Grant number

Gr. 10503

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Ford, Leslie (Pennsylvania State U.) "The effects of embodying water sharing networks on physical and mental health among Daasanach pastoralists in Northern Kenya"

This project investigates how water sharing networks influence physical and mental health. Water sharing networks are common globally as an adaptation to meet water needs but have been documented as leading to negative long term health effects including chronic stress and hypertension. Based on my preliminary findings, however, water sharing networks among Daasanach pastoralists in Kenya do not follow these trends and offer protection against self-reported measures of stress. My project seeks to build on this by mapping water sharing networks within three Daasanach villages to determine if individual health experiences differ based on their position within the network. I will conduct approximately 142 network and health interviews with female household heads and collect height, weight, blood pressure, urine samples to measure hydration, and nail samples to measure stress cortisol. I will also investigate external factors which shape water sharing networks including distance to the market town, water source types, and seasonal variations. While water sharing networks may be protective in some aspects, it is unknown if they are sustainable and healthy long term water solutions. The findings from this research will be informative for groups looking to address water insecurity among Daasanach and other populations facing similar concerns globally.