Agriculture’s impact on malaria | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian ProfessionalPosted: June 19, 2013
Greater policy alignment in achieving health and agricultural objectives is therefore the challenge. One approach is for health impact assessments to be built into irrigation projects, just like environmental impact assessments (EIA) often are. This happens, but isn’t yet standard practice, particularly for smaller schemes.
“The bigger ones have it,” says Birley. “So where an EIA would look at the impact of an irrigation project on many aspects of the environment, the health impact assessment looks at unintended health consequences. But most national governments don’t have regulations for health impact assessments.”
In the example of maize, fairly simple changes such as growing other crops near mosquito breeding grounds and maize further away is one way of addressing the problem. Maize can also be de-tasselled by hand to remove the pollen-producing tassels, or maize breeders could potentially select for different pollen shedding patterns in their breeding strategies.
But for such ‘malaria-smart’ policy responses to happen, there needs to be broader awareness of how agricultural productivity and other objectives overlap, says McCann. This is where advocacy by development actors could make a difference.