Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Colleen Reid

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Balaji Rajagopalan


Diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of childhood mortality world-wide and are among the top three leading causes of childhood mortality in Uganda. Prior research suggests a relationship between weather and diarrheal incidence. This thesis attempts to distinguish how short-term temperature and precipitation anomalies in 2016 impacted diarrheal incidence in Uganda. I combined household-level data from the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey with gridded meteorological data obtained from the International Research Institute Data Library. I then performed logistic regressions over various temporal ranges in order to assess the association between diarrheal disease incidence and temperature and precipitation anomalies in Uganda in 2016. Confounding variables including wealth quintile, toilet type, drinking water type, rural versus urban status, presence of electricity, and floor type were used in my regression analysis to adjust the relationship between meteorological anomalies and diarrheal incidence for household and geographic characteristics that could also influence diarrhea. My results indicate a borderline statistically significant positive relationship between higher temperatures during Uganda’s rainy season and diarrheal incidence in the following months (OR = 1.66). The relationship between precipitation and diarrheal incidence was not statistically significant in this study. I also found that household variables played a significant role in diarrheal contraction and may explain some of the disparities in diarrheal incidence between rural and urban communities. These results could be used to inform policymakers about when to implement advanced measures for dealing with predicted weather events and subsequent peaks in diarrhea. The results could also facilitate improvements in sanitation facilities and can raise further questions about the relationship between climate and diarrhea.