Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Combating Malaria With Solar Energy

On April 25, people across the world took part in a wide range of activities to mark World Malaria Day 2013. In the same day a Dutch's institute, Wageningen University, began a four-year campaign called "Solarmal Project" to install more than 4,000 solar-powered mosquito traps at homes on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, Kenya.

Researchers are trying to develop a new toxin-free approach to combating malaria. They hope that this will not only eliminate malaria locally in Africa, but also provide the local population with solar energy. Mosquito traps containing "human odour" are placed to attract mosquitoes away from the houses. Once they have entered the traps, the mosquitoes will die of dehydration. This technology has eliminated the use of insecticides which would lead to a high level of insecticide resistance in the malaria mosquitoes, which makes fighting the disease increasingly difficult and harmful to the environment. The power supply for the fans in the traps is provided by solar panels on the roof, which not only guarantees that the traps will work but also provides the family with sustainable electricity for lighting and mobile phone charging.

Solar panels and mosquito traps will be installed on approximately 50 homes per week and an estimated 4,000 solar panels overall. The impact of the project will be monitored closely as its dual benefits of providing inhabitants with energy and potentially eradicating malaria would be groundbreaking worldwide.

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