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Applications of the African Flood and Drought Monitor to Vector- and Water-borne Disease, and to Human Well-being
  • William Logan,
  • Justin Sheffield,
  • Eric Wood
William Logan
US Army Corps of Engineers Washington DC

Corresponding Author:will.logan@usace.army.mil

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Justin Sheffield
University of Southampton
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Eric Wood
Princeton University
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The African Flood and Drought Monitor (AFDM) was developed by Princeton University in collaboration with UNESCO-IHP, regional hydroclimate centers in Africa and ICIWaRM. Based on advanced land surface modeling driven by satellite data, the system provides 25-km resolution near-real-time evaluations of the terrestrial water cycle, plus forecasting by merging seasonal climate forecasts with hydrological modeling. Originally targeted toward hydrometeorological services, drought managers and researchers, the AFDM has found many applications in health and epidemiology, e.g.: Malaria: In northern Zambia, populations of the two malaria-carrying mosquito species had strong, time-lagged correlations to rainfall events. Relations to temperature were more complex. The AFDM helped show the effectiveness of targeted indoor residual spraying (Hast et al., 2019a, b). Trypanosomiasis: In the Maasai Steppe of Tanzania, negative relationships were found between abundance of two tsetse fly species and AFDM temperature. Trypanosome prevalence in the species increased with rising maximum temperatures from 26-31° C, and then declined (Nnko et al., 2017). Cholera: In Cameroon, associations were found between AFDM average daily maximum temperature and risk of cholera transmission that varied across four climate subzones (Ngwa et al., 2016). Related studies using AFDM data with implications for human health and well-being in Africa, include: Stunted growth: In four African countries, a rainfall deficit of 1 standard deviation from the mean was associated with an increase of stunting in children age 0-60 months of 2.2 to 3.2% (Hill et al., 2019). Human migration: Rainfall shortages and excess temperature, and less so soil moisture, are strong drivers of out-migration from South Africa, especially for black and low-income migrants (Mastrorillo et al., 2015). Herbivore parasites: In Botswana, temperature had a small negative effect on abundance of nematode parasites of herbivores (Walker et al., 2016), and modeled helminth larval development affecting goats was primarily driven by daily rainfall (Walker et al., 2018). Overall, these examples provide evidence that the provision of climate and hydrological information in consistent and accessible ways can help enable health-related research and applications.