Barbara Matthys: The effect of irrigated urban agriculture on malaria, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in different settings of Côte d'Ivoire

PhD-thesis within the framework of the NCCR North-South, Faculty of Science (2006)

The study focuses on the relation of urban agriculture and human health in two cities of Côte d’Ivoire (Abidjan and Man) with the aim to better understand the effects of irrigation in urban agriculture on the transmission of malaria, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and intestinal protozoan infections. The two urban settings are placed in a broader context, i.e. factors at regional, community, household and individual level are considered. Particular attention is given to risk factors, perceived illness and cases of local coping strategies, focusing on community and household level. The results show that P.falciparum, soil-transmitted helminths (and S. mansoni in Man) present a heterogeneous distribution among the urban agricultural sites. In Man living near to permanent man-made ponds, periodic stays overnight in farm huts and water contact with irrigation wells are identified as risk factors. Generally, man-made habitats such as trenches, irrigation wells or flooded rice plots provide productive breeding sites for vectors. In Abidjan the farmers tend to underestimate symptoms due to intestinal parasitic infections, while on the other hand waste dumps and human defecation grounds in their environment are perceived as health risks. By looking at the local coping strategies, the study gives evidence to the fact that in some zones farmer community structures and the social network among them represent a social capital. These structures indicate the degree of stability in such an agricultural area with regard to the intensity of pressure on urban land.