Project A:

Social, environment and climate change impacts on vector-borne diseases in arid areas of southern Africa


Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are prevalent in Southern Africa particularly in poor and vulnerable communities. Bionomic, socioeconomic, environmental, institutional and climatic factors are the major drivers of VBD transmission. With the effects of climate change, the distribution and prevalence of VBDs are likely to increase. The Malaria and Bilharzia in Southern Africa project (MABISA) has provided an opportunity to understand the likely impact of climate change on malaria and schistosomiasis in specific socio-ecological systems in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The project focuses on dryland ecologies and water systems within drylands. To visit the MABISA website, click here.


The aim of the project is to determine the impacts of socio-economic, environmental, climatic, bionomic and institutional factors on malaria and schistosomiasis in specific vulnerable communities in arid areas of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This is done with a view to develop stakeholder-driven adaptation strategies.


South Africa: Study sites in the uMgedula, Ndumo, Makhanisi villages in the uMkhanyakude District (KwaZulu-Natal province)

Botswana: Study sites in the Shakawe and Ngarange villages of the Ngamiland district

Zimbabwe: Study sites in the Buvuma, Ntalale and Selonga villages of the Gwanda District


The project follows an ecohealth approach, emphasising transdisciplinarity, systems approach, community participation, gender equity, sustainability and knowledge to action. It applies both qualitative and quantitative methodologies as indicated below;

  • Workshops and group discussions to learn from and with community members
  • Interviews with key informants (e.g. policy makers, traditional leaders and health personnel)
  • Observations and case studies
  • Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA)
  • Lab and field studies of vector viability under different conditions
  • Determining vector variations across different climatic zones by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing
  • Modelling future impact scenarios and feeding results into National Adaptation Plans

Why this project?

There are several factors that influence the occurrence of VBD infections. Most important of these are: climate, ecosystems, human behaviours, vectors and disease parasites.

This project aims to better understand these factors and help vulnerable populations. The researchers want to develop decision-support tools to improve early detection, early action and adaptation mechanisms, to increase population resilience to vector-borne diseases.