Nigeria’s under-five mortality rate is ranked as the eighth highest in the world, and diarrhea is known to be a major contributor to this statistic [1
]. Diarrhea is defined as the passage of three of more loose or liquid stools in a 24-h period [2
]. The disease is usually a symptom of an intestinal tract infection that is caused by a host of bacterial, viral, and/or parasitic organisms [2
]. Diarrhea is considered to be one the leading causes of infant and childhood death in developing countries, and is responsible for 11% of all under-five deaths worldwide [3
]. Approximately 19% of total child deaths globally are attributed to diarrheal disease, which affects about 1.87 million children under the age of five [4
]. Diarrhea is largely prevalent in developing countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a lack of safe water, improper means of human fecal waste disposal, intense crowding of rudimentary houses, and poor overall standards of hygiene [5
]. As a result of these poor living conditions, young children under the age of five are at a higher risk of being exposed to pathogens that cause diarrhea, which then contributes to a considerable burden of disease within the population. According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health survey (NDHS) (2013), the prevalence of childhood diarrhea in Nigeria lies at about 11%, affecting thousands of children below the age of five [6
]. Within the country, diarrhea prevalence is highest in the North Eastern state of Yobe at 35%, and lowest in the Southern states of Bayelsa, Edo, and Ogun, at 2% each [6
]. Although there is no indication of the seasonal incidence in the NDHS, prior research illustrates that the incidence of diarrhea among under-five children was the highest during the peak of the dry season (February and April), and the lowest during the rainy season (May–October) [7
]. This highly preventable disease causes severe dehydration, which then results in nutritional deficits and/or malnourishment, which can then lead to impaired child growth or death [8
]. As a result, diarrhea adversely impacts child growth, fitness, cognition, and performance at school. Additionally, it is estimated that each diarrheal episode that is experienced by a child before his or her second birthday increases the risk of being stunted by five percent [9
]. Furthermore, experiences of diarrheal disease in early childhood are associated with long-term adverse cognitive effects and decreased work productivity later in life [10
]. Research has shown that poor, unhealthy housing environments increases the risk of infectious diseases, and this is strongly reflected in the nature of the United Nations sustainable development goals.
The United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development has been working with various global stakeholders towards meeting various sustainable development goals each year. In 2017, the HLPF focused on seven goals that would eradicate poverty and promote prosperity in a changing world. One of these seven goals was sustainable development goal (SDG) three, good health and well-being [11
]. The SDG progress report (2017) for SDG three reported that a major risk factor for infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and mortality as a result of these diseases is the lack of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services (WASH) [12
]. The lack of safe WASH services disproportionately affects populations living in sub-Saharan Africa and central/southern Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa particularly, the death rates owing to unsafe WASH services, were 46 per 100,000 people [12
]. In 2012, approximately 889,000 people died from infectious diseases, such as diarrhea, which was caused largely by fecal contamination in water, as well as inadequate hand-washing practices as a result of non-existent sanitation facilities [12
]. Furthermore, the report indicates a considerably higher mortality rate for children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa at 84 deaths per 1000 live births in comparison to global statistics, which reports 43 deaths per 1000 live births. The HLPF agenda for 2018 is intended to focus on ‘transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’ [11
]. SDG Six, access to safe water and sanitation, is one of the six goals that was included in the 2018 HLPF agenda, and is directly related to what is needed in Nigeria to reduce under-five mortality that is associated with diarrheal disease.
Unfortunately, cases of diarrhea are still widely prevalent in Nigeria, despite various government-led interventions that have been implemented to tackle the issue [13
]. Diarrheal diseases are largely preventable, and more action at various levels of government and civil society organizations within Nigeria are necessary to reduce the associated under-five mortality rate. The most common cause of childhood diarrhea in Nigeria is due to the contamination of food and water by germs or infectious organisms that proliferate in poor living conditions [2
]. In fact, the lack of safe water, basic sanitation, and hygiene account for about 88% of the disease burden due to diarrhea [14
]. A large proportion of literature has focused on curative strategies to tackle this infectious disease among sick children, such as appropriate community home management and the use of oral rehydration solutions to rehydrate them [8
]. However, more preventative solutions are needed to reduce the associated morbidity and mortality rates. This study examines the association between household characteristics, such as toilet facilities, water quality, access to electricity, and the existence and quality of walls, roofs, and flooring in Nigerian dwellings, and diarrhea amongst various under-five children in Nigeria. NDHS 2013 data have been thoroughly analyzed using descriptive and multivariate regression methods.