A world without hunger, which is one of the development goals of the UN, is being threatened by malaria. Africa intends to become self-sufficient in rice production by 2020, but this goal will likely not be achieved because of malaria. On a large scale, malaria impacts agriculture and specifically rice production.
In agricultural areas endemic for malaria it has been estimated that harvests may be up to 60% lower than in areas where malaria is less of a problem or absent.
Companies and rice cooperatives notice the problems caused by malaria first-hand. First, their production and labour input is threatened when employees are sick or have to look after their sick relatives. Second, most of these organisations bear the health costs for their employees and families, which can be very high. Lastly, they need to provide replacement labour during the period of absenteeism.
Rather than curing people after they contracted malaria, it may be more cost-effective to become pro-active and prevent infection with malaria in the first place by reducing the mosquito population with drones. This is what we wish to prove in our pilot project.
Controlling malaria results in less suffering and therefore more economic opportunities for (rice)farmers, their families and cooperatives. Improved economic perspectives, in turn, leads to further development of African nations. A growing economy presents the basis for better education and general well-being of society, thereby reducing international (economic) migration and unrest.
The image below shows the interconnectedness between malaria and agriculture (source: International Food Policy Research Institute):
The impact of malaria on especially African countries is a matter that should not only concern large foundations, philanthropists, the UN or WorldBank but also politicians, companies, and society at large in the rest of the world. The battle against malaria in Africa is a battle we must all fight.
Are you curious to know how we will use anti malaria drones in malaria control?