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Urban Agriculture and Malaria

Generally, there is little malaria in urban centers because Anopheles mosquitoes require clean water bodies for breeding that are rarely found in the more polluted cities. The exception might be urban farming with relatively clean irrigation water. Urban farming has been criticized by authorities for creating “rural spots” in the city and therewith allowing malaria to spread into urban centers. In addition, there are suggestions that Anopheles mosquitoes are adapting to more polluted waters.

 To investigate the spread of malaria into urban areas, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and partners have initiated a study to determine the impact of urban agriculture on malaria ( IWMI is a project implemented under the System Wide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture (SIMA) ( EHP has provided financial support for IWMI to study the distribution and physical and chemical properties of urban agricultural sites that are colonized by Anopheles mosquitoes.

A pilot study on urban agriculture and malaria in the city of Kumasi, Ghana, indicated an increased presence of Anopheles gambiae, the main malaria vector for West Africa, in areas with urban agriculture. Subsequent larval inventory studies have confirmed breeding in water bodies related to urban agriculture.

In order to investigate the possible adaptation of Anopheles mosquitoes to more polluted water and to develop guidelines for water quality for urban agriculture, studies have been implemented in the cities of Kumasi and Accra in Ghana.

Sampling of a well in Accra for mosquito breeding. Three monthly inventories of urban agricultural wells for presence of anophelines are being undertaken in Accra. Wells are monitored for:

  • larval densities

  • pH

  • electrical conductivity—a measure of salinity

  • habitat characteristics.

Example of agricultural well that is being sampled

Checking of water collection reservoir in 
compound for presence of mosquitoes






EHP is sponsored by the Office of Health, Infectious Diseases and Nutrition,
Bureau for Global Health, of the U.S. Agency for International Development
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Last modified February 18, 2004