Together with regional stakeholders, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) generated so-called ‘socio-economic scenarios’. These scenarios aim to explore key regional socio-economic and governance uncertainties for food security, environment and livelihoods through integrated qualitative-quantitative descriptions of plausible futures to 2030. The CCAFS vision has been to use these scenarios with regional, national and local actors for strategic planning. They hope to explore the feasibility of strategies, technologies and policies toward improved food security, environments and livelihoods under different socio-economic and governance conditions.
Problems around diseases, environmental change and food insecurity for vulnerable rural communities in the developing world go hand in hand. So, too, do the impacts of government policies and strategies of non-state actors focusing on health care and food. Both issues face many similar future uncertainties – both of an economic and political nature (e.g. migration, funds for treatment, conflicts, uneven development etc.) as well as biophysical change (e.g. climate change, ecosystem degradation), with different but related impacts. These scenarios with their regional food security focus are therefore very well suited for the exploration of possible futures of vector-borne diseases in Eastern Africa.
In a true collaborative effort, CCAFS and the Healthy Futures project organised a stakeholder workshop to adapt CCAFS storylines to the disease context. They were financially supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.
On 6 November 2012, a group of experts of different disciplines met at the ILRI campus in Nairobi to look at potential futures of vector-borne diseases in East Africa. The participants discussed future scenarios of socio-economic development in the region and its implications for the spread and control of malaria, schistosomiasis and Rift Valley fever. The workshop developed an inventory of interventions to tackle the diseases – such as the analysis of rainfall information through mobile phone networks as an early warning system for malaria, including disease risks in livestock insurance programs, the introduction of non-susceptible animals and the pairing of water-related disease mitigation policies with irrigation schemes.
Then, the participants discussed key uncertainties for the diseases, many of which related to food insecurity, agricultural livelihoods and environmental change, linking them strongly to the CCAFS scenarios. Examples are the uncertain future of pastoralists and the double-edged link between poverty (fewer livestock but less capacity to cope) and Rift Valley fever. Similarly, better regional integration in East Africa might improve food trade but also allow for more opportunities for disease transmission across borders.
In a next step the qualitative assessments will be quantified through the use of integrated models. Both the qualitative and quantitative information will finally feed into the vulnerability assessments and decision support system.
Story by An Notenbaert