ABSTRACT: We describe the concept, strategy, and initial results of the Millennium Villages Project and implications regarding sustainability and scalability. Our underlying hypothesis is that the interacting crises of agriculture, health, and infrastructure in rural Africa can be overcome through targeted public-sector investments to raise rural productivity and, thereby, to increased private-sector saving and investments. This is carried out by empowering impoverished communities with science-based interventions. Seventy-eight Millennium Villages have been initiated in 12 sites in 10 African countries, each representing a major agro-ecological zone. In early results, the research villages in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Malawi have reduced malaria prevalence, met caloric requirements, generated crop surpluses, enabled school feeding programs, and provided cash earnings for farm families.
Project description:In this study, quantitative models of the agricultural sector and nutrient transport and cycling are used to analyse the impacts in the Baltic Sea of replacing the current Greening measures of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy with a package of investments in manure handling. The investments aim at improving nutrient utilization and reducing nitrogen leaching, based on the assumption that lagging farms and regions can catch up with observed good practice. Our results indicate that such investments could reduce nitrogen surpluses in agriculture by 18% and nitrogen concentrations in the Baltic Sea by 1 to 9% depending on the basin. The Greening measures, in contrast, are found to actually increase nitrogen leaching.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of children under five years in age are chronically undernourished. As new investments and attention galvanize action on African agriculture to reduce hunger, there is an urgent need for metrics that monitor agricultural progress beyond calories produced per capita and address nutritional diversity essential for human health. In this study we demonstrate how an ecological tool, functional diversity (FD), has potential to address this need and provide new insights on nutritional diversity of cropping systems in rural Africa. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Data on edible plant species diversity, food security and diet diversity were collected for 170 farms in three rural settings in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nutritional FD metrics were calculated based on farm species composition and species nutritional composition. Iron and vitamin A deficiency were determined from blood samples of 90 adult women. Nutritional FD metrics summarized the diversity of nutrients provided by the farm and showed variability between farms and villages. Regression of nutritional FD against species richness and expected FD enabled identification of key species that add nutrient diversity to the system and assessed the degree of redundancy for nutrient traits. Nutritional FD analysis demonstrated that depending on the original composition of species on farm or village, adding or removing individual species can have radically different outcomes for nutritional diversity. While correlations between nutritional FD, food and nutrition indicators were not significant at household level, associations between these variables were observed at village level. CONCLUSION: This study provides novel metrics to address nutritional diversity in farming systems and examples of how these metrics can help guide agricultural interventions towards adequate nutrient diversity. New hypotheses on the link between agro-diversity, food security and human nutrition are generated and strategies for future research are suggested calling for integration of agriculture, ecology, nutrition, and socio-economics.
Project description:Empirical studies on social diffusions are often restricted by the access to data of diffusion and social relations on the same objects. We present a set of first-hand data that we collected in ten rural villages in central China through household surveys. The dataset contains detailed and comprehensive data of the diffusion of an innovation, the major social relationships and the household level demographic characteristics in these villages. The data have been used to study peer effects in social diffusion using simulation models, "Peer Effects and Social Network: The Case of Rural Diffusion in Central China" . They can also be used to estimate spatial econometric models. Data are supplied with this article.
Project description:Free-roaming dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are of public health and conservation concern because of their potential to transmit diseases, such as rabies, to both people and wildlife. Understanding domestic dog population dynamics and how they could potentially be impacted by interventions, such as rabies vaccination, is vital for such disease control efforts. For four years, we measured demographic data on 2,649 free-roaming domestic dogs in four rural villages in Tanzania: two villages with and two without a rabies vaccination campaign. We examined the effects of body condition, sex, age and village on survivorship and reproduction. Furthermore, we compared sources of mortality among villages. We found that adult dogs (>12mos) had higher survival than puppies in all villages. We observed a male-biased sex ratio across all age classes. Overall survival in one non-vaccination village was lower than in the other three villages, all of which had similar survival probabilities. In all villages, dogs in poor body condition had lower survival than dogs in ideal body condition. Sickness and spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) predation were the two main causes of dog death. Within vaccination villages, vaccinated dogs had higher survivorship than unvaccinated dogs. Dog population growth, however, was similar in all the villages suggesting village characteristics and ownership practices likely have a greater impact on overall dog population dynamics than vaccination. Free-roaming domestic dogs in rural communities exist in the context of their human owners as well as the surrounding wildlife. Our results did not reveal a clear effect of vaccination programs on domestic dog population dynamics. An investigation of the role of dogs and their care within these communities could provide additional insight for planning and implementing rabies control measures such as mass dog vaccination.
Project description:Public value is gaining prominence from both academics and politicians with regards to China's rural development. However, rural planning authorities and practitioners showed limited confidence on public, which manifests as few public perceptions were integrated into the planning documents. This study explores the potential role of residents' experiences in illustrating local economic development within the context of coastal villages in which economic and industries are rapidly transforming. Two case studies from within the locale of the Greater Hangzhou Bay Rim Area are used in this article to examine the gap between residents' experiences and the actual economic development that has occurred. The main findings suggest that rural residents can directly reflect upon both current and historic trends of local economic development. Moreover, household income satisfaction (HIS) is a comprehensive notion of residents' experiences, and indicates social and economic sustainability of industrial transformation, or "thriving business", that have been highlighted in coastal villages. Public experiences could therefore act as a valid and accessible evidence for planners in rural economic planning in China and other developing countries.
Project description:The Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) is the reservoir host of Lassa virus (LASV), an arenavirus that causes Lassa haemorrhagic fever in humans in West Africa. While previous studies suggest that spillover risk is focal within rural villages due to the spatial behaviour of the rodents, the level of clustering was never specifically assessed. Nevertheless, detailed information on the spatial distribution of infected rodents would be highly valuable to optimize LASV-control campaigns, which are limited to rodent control or interrupting human-rodent contact considering that a human vaccine is not available. Here, we analysed data from a four-year field experiment to investigate whether LASV-infected rodents cluster in households in six rural villages in Guinea. Our analyses were based on the infection status (antibody or PCR) and geolocation of rodents (n?=?864), and complemented with a phylogenetic analysis of LASV sequences (n?=?119). We observed that the majority of infected rodents were trapped in a few houses (20%) and most houses were rodent-free at a specific point in time (60%). We also found that LASV strains circulating in a specific village were polyphyletic with respect to neighbouring villages, although most strains grouped together at the sub-village level and persisted over time. In conclusion, our results suggest that: (i) LASV spillover risk is heterogeneously distributed within villages in Guinea; (ii) viral elimination in one particular village is unlikely if rodents are not controlled in neighbouring villages. Such spatial information should be incorporated into eco-epidemiological models that assess the cost-efficiency of LASV control strategies.
Project description:Epilepsy is a neurological disorder with a multitude of underlying causes, which may include infection with Onchocerca volvulus, the parasitic worm that causes human onchocerciasis. A survey carried out in 1989 revealed a high prevalence of epilepsy (1.02% overall, ranging from 0.51 to 3.71% in ten villages) in the Mahenge area of Ulanga district, an onchocerciasis endemic region in south eastern Tanzania. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy following 20 years of onchocerciasis control through annual community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI).The study was conducted in January 2017 in two suburban and two rural villages in the Mahenge area. Door-to-door household visits were carried out by trained community health workers and data assistants to screen for persons suspected of having epilepsy, using a standardised questionnaire. Persons with suspected epilepsy were then interviewed and examined by a neurologist for case verification. Onchocerciasis associated epilepsy was defined as epilepsy without an obvious cause, with an onset of seizures between the ages of 3-18 years in previously healthy children. In each village, fifty males aged ?20 years were tested for onchocerciasis antibodies using an OV16 rapid test and were examined for presence of onchocerciasis nodules. Children aged 6-10 years were also tested using OV16 tests.5117 individuals (median age 18.5 years, 53.2% female) from 1168 households were screened. 244 (4.8%) were suspected of having epilepsy and invited for neurological assessment. Prevalence of epilepsy was 2.5%, with the rural villages having the highest rate (3.5% vs 1.5%), P <?0.001. Overall incidence of epilepsy was 111 cases (95% CI: 73-161) per 100?000 person-years, while that of onchocerciasis associated epilepsy was 131 (95% CI: 70-223). Prevalence of OV16 antibodies in adult males and among children 6-10 years old was higher in rural villages than in suburban villages (76.5% vs 50.6, and 42.6% vs 4.7% respectively), (P <?0.001), while overall prevalence of onchocerciasis nodules was 1.8%.This survey revealed a high prevalence and incidence of epilepsy in two rural onchocerciasis endemic villages in the Mahenge area. Despite 20 years of CDTI, a high prevalence of OV16 antibodies in children aged 6-10 years suggests on-going O. volvulus transmission. Reasons for the persistence of on-going parasite transmission in the Mahenge area need to be investigated.
Project description:The provision of healthcare in rural African communities is a highly complex and largely unsolved problem. Two main difficulties are the identification of individuals that are most likely affected by disease and the prediction of responses to health interventions. Social networks have been shown to capture health outcomes in a variety of contexts. Yet, it is an open question as to what extent social network analysis can identify and distinguish among households that are most likely to report poor health and those most likely to respond to positive behavioural influences. We use data from seven highly remote, post-conflict villages in Liberia and compare two prominent network measures: in-degree and betweenness. We define in-degree as the frequency in which members from one household are named by another household as a friends. Betweenness is defined as the proportion of shortest friendship paths between any two households in a network that traverses a particular household. We find that in-degree explains the number of ill family members, whereas betweenness explains engagement in preventative health. In-degree and betweenness independently explained self-reported health and behaviour, respectively. Further, we find that betweenness predicts susceptibility to, instead of influence over, good health behaviours. The results suggest that targeting households based on network measures rather than health status may be effective for promoting the uptake of health interventions in rural poor villages.
Project description:Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 calls for reducing mortality of children under-five years by two-thirds by 2015. Indonesia is on track to officially meet the MDG 4 targets by 2015 but progress has been far from universal. It has been argued that national level statistics, on which MDG 4 relies, obscure persistent health inequities within the country. Particularly inequities in child health are a major global public health challenge both for achieving MDG 4 in 2015 and beyond. This review aims to map out the situation of MDG 4 with respect to disadvantaged populations in Indonesia applying the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) framework. The specific objectives are to answer: Who are the disadvantaged populations? Where do they live? And why and how is the inequitable distribution of health explained in terms of the SDH framework?We retrieved studies through a systematic review of peer-reviewed and gray literature published in 1995-2014. The PRISMA-Equity 2012 statement was adapted to guide the methods of this review. The dependent variables were MDG 4-related indicators; the independent variable "disadvantaged populations" was defined by different categories of social differentiation using PROGRESS. Included texts were analyzed following the guidelines for deductive content analysis operationalized on the basis of the SDH framework. We identified 83 studies establishing evidence on more than 40 different determinants hindering an equitable distribution of child health in Indonesia. The most prominent determinants arise from the shortcomings within the rural health care system, the repercussions of food poverty coupled with low health literacy among parents, the impact of low household decision-making power of mothers, and the consequences of high persistent use of traditional birth attendants among ethnic minorities.This review calls for enhanced understanding of the determinants and pathways that create, detain, and overcome inequities in child health in resource constraint settings like Indonesia and the promotion of actionable health policy recommendations and tailored investments.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The public-private mix of healthcare remains controversial. This paper examines physicians' preferences for public sector work in the context of dual practice, whilst accounting for other differences in the characteristics of jobs. METHODS:A discrete choice experiment is conducted with data from 3422 non-GP specialists from the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) panel survey of physicians. RESULTS:Physicians prefer to work in the public sector, though the value of working in the public sector is very small at 0.14% of their annual earnings to work an additional hour per week. These preferences are heterogeneous. Contrary to other studies that show risk averse individuals prefer public sector work, for physicians, we find that those averse to taking career or clinical risks prefer to work in the private sector. Those with relatively low earnings prefer public sector work and those with high earnings prefer private sector work, though these effects are small. CONCLUSIONS:Other job characteristics are more important than the sector of work, suggesting that these should be the focus of policy to influence specialist's allocation of time between sectors.