Over one million malaria cases a year are due to large dams

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African dams linked to one million malaria cases a year

“Given the likelihood of more dam construction in Africa in the coming years, it is increasingly important that adverse malaria impacts of dams are addressed.” – Jonathan Lautze, International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa


by Dorcas Odhiambo

Speed read

  • Researchers mapped 1,268 existing, and 72 planned, large dams and malaria zones
  • They estimated that over one million malaria cases a year are due to large dams
  • Researchers recommend a need to address negative effects of large dams

Large dams contribute to more than one million malaria cases in Sub-Saharan Africa a year, a study says.

According to scientists from Australia, Laos and South Africa who conducted the study, the cumulative effect of large dams on malaria has not been known despite the construction of many dams on the continent.

Therefore, they mapped the distribution of 1,268 large existing dams and 78 large planned dams in relation to malaria transmission across all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Jonathan Lautze, a co-author of the study and a researcher at the International Water Management Institute Southern Africa office in Pretoria, South Africa, says they collected and quantified the cumulative malaria impact of large dams in Sub-Saharan Africa,  documented the relative effect of dams in zones of different stability of malaria transmission and determined the distribution of dams in relation to these zones.

Lautze explains that the study shows large dams are contributing substantially to malaria in the region, and that the resulting aggregate number of malaria cases of more than a million requires greater focus.

Read the full article: SciDevNet


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.