Rusinga Island, located in the eastern part of Lake Victoria in Kenya, is having solar panels installed on homes to not only provide electricity but to aid in the fight against malaria. Malaria kills an estimated 1.2 million people per year and is a big problem for the 30,000 inhabitants of Rusinga Island. If fitting homes with solar panels that power insecticide-free mosquito traps proves successful in combating malaria, this project could be replicated in other remote areas of the world plagued by this disease.
This pilot project was proposed by the Netherlands’ Wageningen University with the hope of installing at least 4,000 solar panels powering insecticide-free mosquito traps and eradicating malaria from the island. The head of the research team, Mr. Willem Takken, has stated that the aim is to stop malaria but to do so in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.
The first idea is to use solar panels that have been produced locally. The solar panels will then power mosquito traps that will draw mosquitoes in through the use of natural odors rather than harmful insecticides. It is also thought that with the insecticide-free mosquito traps, there will be less of a chance that mosquitoes will develop a resistance to the pesticides as has happened in the past.
In its trial phase, Wageningen University installed solar panels on 18 homes on the island. The panels have thus far proven to be fully operational and effective in powering the mosquito traps and doing away with mosquitoes. Locals have also been quite pleased with the benefits.
From here on out, solar panels and mosquito traps will be installed on approximately 50 homes per week and an estimated 4,000 solar panels overall. We should keep a close watch on this project as its dual benefits of providing inhabitants with energy and potentially eradicating malaria would be groundbreaking worldwide.
Article by Jill Clayton.