Malaria and agriculture

A global review of the literature with a focus on the application of integrated pest and vector management in East Africa and Uganda

Malaria is one of the top five causes of death worldwide, and roughly half the world’s population lives at risk of the disease. This health problem disproportionately affects the poor, particularly those in Africa south of the Sahara, where the disease is widespread. Many of those most afflicted are part of farming households; therefore agriculture, poverty, and health are intimately linked through malaria. Uganda has the highest malaria parasite transmission in the world and is an important case study due to the role agricultural development has played in increasing malaria transmission within the country, according to the literature reviewed here.

This review brings together current research from agricultural economics, environmental science, and epidemiology to provide a foundation for research directly addressing how malaria relates these fields to one another in malaria-endemic settings such as the East African highlands. While each field has addressed malaria within existing academic frameworks, this literature review should support further interdisciplinary research by providing a detailed and well-documented account of integrative work on malaria to date.
More than 280 published articles and reports were included in the final review, and many more were included in the selection process. Due to the massive volume of literature published on malaria, the selection has been limited to those articles found to fill particular gaps in interdisciplinary understanding.

Ambiguities on the causal relationships between malaria and poverty, climate change, irrigation, and land use changes are discussed in the light of high local variation in impact on malaria transmission. Integrated pest management is explored due to its utilization of farmers’ vocational skills and success in reversing the pesticide resistance now threatening malaria interventions worldwide. In particular, integrated pest and vector management (IPVM) interventions are assessed as a potential option to reduce the malaria burden in agricultural communities. Farmer field schools and IPVM may provide a cost-effective and integrated solution for improving both health and poverty outcomes. Such programs can foster collaboration between the health and agricultural sectors, and draw on the expertise of each in contributing to rural development in malaria-endemic areas.

Author: 
Wielgosz, Benjamin
Mangheni, Margaret
Tsegai, Daniel
Ringler, Claudia
Published date: 
2012
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
1232
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