Malaria Reality: Two Ugandan villagers die in 1st month of preliminary project design

In a series of Community-Based Adaptation courses, students spend several months collaborating with a community in designing a project, seeking funding and launching the project. A few months is a long time when a community is suffering; but then, development is a slow process.

George Okol of Uganda and partners Apurvaa VS (India), Paula Diaz (Colombia), and Willy Alangui (Philippines) (Team Uganda) collaborated with two villages in Uganda in September and George facilitated a participatory needs assessment with community members.

Community Health Challenges

High on the list of challenges that community members identified were health problems—including malaria: “High, rampant and frequent incidents of malaria, diarrhea, cough, other diseases – a common cause of death among children.”

Opposite: A woman happily washing her feet within the village water source not aware of the cosequences.

Over the next few weeks Team Uganda began the development of their project which ultimately included the following health and hygiene program. Please note the two malaria activities:
[Health and Hygiene Program] [Solution to underlying causes: Lack of knowledge of health and hygiene and sanitation]:
[Activity 1] Health and Hygiene Marketing and outreach programs and workshops to schools, families and communities and follow-up
[Activity 2] Hand washing workshop and follow-up
[Activity 3] Kitchen Hygiene and food storage workshop and follow-up
[Activity 4] Clearing and drying of mosquito breeding grounds workshop and & Follow-up (compounds, bushes, stagnant water, etc)
[Activity 5] Scale up actual use of Treated Nets and follow-up
[Activity 6] Point of use water purification workshop and follow-up

When the team returned just a month after the initial needs assessment to present a draft project proposal and get feedback from the community they had a terrible shock when they discovered that two more community members had died from malaria.

George: “I was however greeted by bad news involving one death in the last one month from each of the two villages as a result of malaria – one child of 8 months from Adoku village and one pregnant woman from Abilayep village. I was devastated to learn that these lives could have been saved if prevention and treatment was well handled. Nonetheless, it gave me more motivation to ensure that this project succeeds to benefit this community. They were concerned that they keep losing children and pregnant women frequently to malaria.”

In 2009 mosquitoes infected 225 million people worldwide with malaria—which killed 781,000 of those infected. Many solutions are simple. Standing water is where mosquito larvae live. It can be something as large as a lake or a pond, but it can also be something as small as a stagnant ditch or mud puddle—or even cans of water in a rubbish pile, or tires lying in a field.

Working with a community to begin a program of consciousness raising and policing breeding areas around the community and cleaning them up is a simple, easy-to-understand, no-cost activity to launch.

Low cost insecticide treated sleeping nets offer 70% protection compared to not using a net. Scientific studies show that the nets will reduce malarial episodes by 50%. The nets only cost three dollars on average.

So team Uganda is on the right track: it’s just a terrible shame that villages are continuing to die when the project is still only in a preliminary design stage.

We maintain a database of field projects designed by students and make them available to new, incoming students—to both help speed up the design process and get evidence-based and sustainable development information into their hands.

Because many of the technologies that our students are working with (such as Team Uganda’s mosquito activities) are incredibly simple—it’s too bad that we can’t get this information more quickly into the hands of a greater number of people on the ground who can use it today.

Good job team Uganda –and keep it up! Read their report from the field complete with some great photographs:

To learn about student projects in real time, please visit our Facebook Page or CSDi Development Community to see their postings.

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The Center for Sustainable Development specializes in providing sound, evidence-based information, tools and training for humanitarian development professionals worldwide. CSDi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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