The construction of dams and irrigation of arid areas have been a boon to rice farming in Ethiopia. While enhancing food productivity and economic development, such environmental modifications could have unforeseen detrimental effects on malaria transmission and epidemiology.

Controlling malaria in Africa

A UCI study on the impact of environmental changes on malaria in sub-Saharan Africa has been awarded up to $9.6 million over seven years from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases. The funding establishes UCI as one of the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research, which will engage in projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Guiyun Yan, professor of public health, leads the UCI project. “Knowledge gained from this ICEMR will be important to malaria control, not only for the two countries studied – Ethiopia and Kenya – but also for other regions of Africa,” Yan says. He adds that the overarching goal of UCI’s ICEMR is to assess the effect of human-induced environmental modifications – such as dam construction, irrigation and shifting agricultural practices – on the epidemiology and transmission of malaria. Because of food insufficiencies, major investments have been made in water resource development in highly populated Kenya and Ethiopia.