Development of a Spatial and Temporal Agent-based Model for Studying Water and Health Relationships

February 17, 2012 · 0 comments

Development of a Spatial and Temporal Agent-based Model for Studying Water and Health Relationships: the Case Study of Two Villages in Limpopo, South Africa

Jeffrey B. Demarest, et al. Department of Systems Engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point

Submitted to: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, December 2011

Diarrhea, the second leading cause of child morbidity and mortality, can have detrimental effects in the physical and cognitive development of children in developing countries. Health interventions (e.g., increased access to health services and safe water) designed to address this problem are difficult to implement in resource-limited settings. In this paper, we present a tool for understanding the complex relationship between water and public health in rural areas of a developing country.

A spatial and temporal agent-based model (ABM) was developed to simulate the current water, sanitation, and health status in two villages in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The model was calibrated using empirical data and published sources. It was used to demonstrate the effects of poor water quality on the frequency of diarrheal episodes in children, and consequently on child development. Preliminary simulation results show that at the current total coliform levels in the water sources of the studied villages, children are expected to experience stunting by as much as -1.0 standard deviation from the World Health Organization height norms.

With minor modifications, the calibrated ABM can be used to design and evaluate intervention strategies for improving child health in these villages. The model can also be applied to other regions worldwide that face the same environmental challenges and conditions as the studied villages

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