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University of Malawi

Country: Malawi
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24 Projects, page 1 of 5
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: MR/V02860X/1
    Funder Contribution: 705,044 GBP
    Partners: University of Malawi

    Sub-Saharan African countries have adopted COVID-19 prevention methods similar to those used in developed countries although their people live in a different context. The spread of COVID-19 in African households and people's adherence to preventive measures are not known, but this information is required to develop appropriate prevention measures. We aim to determine the intensity of COVID-19 spread in households located in urban medium-density, urban high-density and rural-high density areas in Malawi, Africa, factors that promote the spread of the disease and the impact of the disease on people's lives. Our specific objectives are to: (1) estimate the proportion of people living in the same household with infected people who become infected, (2) assess whether the risk of getting infected and developing severe symptoms are influenced by personal and nutritional characteristics and immunity to COVID-19; other infections (HIV, TB, malaria) or their treatments; and the household environment (3) assess whether the use of personal protective equipment is acceptable, feasible, and effective among people living with infected individuals (4) describe the experiences of caregivers of COVID-19 infected individuals (5) estimate the costs and lost income associated with home-based care for infected people. Study findings will help to identify high risk households/areas and design appropriate social safety nets for affected households. Our research team's existing collaboration with policy makers and local health department will facilitate the use of research findings to strengthen the fight against the disease.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/M00810X/1
    Funder Contribution: 128,674 GBP
    Partners: University of Malawi

    Extending and sustaining access to safe and reliable water services remains central to improving the health and livelihoods of poor people, particularly women, in Africa. Here an estimated 350 million rural inhabitants still have no form of safe drinking water, and depend on poor quality unreliable sources for all their domestic needs. Improving access to water, and helping to achieve new international goals of universal access to safe water hinges on accelerated development of groundwater resources, usually through drilling boreholes and equipping them with handpumps. However, emphasis on new infrastructure has obscured a hidden crisis of failure, with >30% of new sources non-functional within 5-years and many more unreliable. This problem has remained stubbornly persistent over the last four decades, with little sign of sustained progress despite various interventions. Part of the reason for this continued failure is the lack of systematic investigations into the complex multifaceted reasons for failure and therefore the same mistakes are often repeated. The accumulated costs to governments, donors and above all rural people are enormous. Addressing the functionality crisis requires a step-change in understanding of what continues to go wrong. The complex issue must be approached from a truly interdisciplinary viewpoint: combining innovative natural sciences to assess the availability of local water resources and how this changes with seasons and climate; with detailed social science research of how local communities function and make decisions about managing their infrastructure; and understanding of how the engineered structures can degenerate. Underlying these reasons for source failure may be other contributory factors, such as government incentives, the role of the donor community, or long term changes in the demand for water. The overall aim of the project is to build a robust, multi-country evidence base on the causes of the unacceptably high rates of groundwater system and service failure and use this knowledge to deliver a step-change in future functionality. To achieve this aim, our research draws on a novel interdisciplinary approach using the latest thinking and techniques in both natural and social science and applies them to three African countries that have struggled for decades with service sustainability - Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi. There are five main objectives:1.to provide a rigorous definition of functionality of water points which accounts for seasonality, quality and expectations of service; 2. to apply this new definition to Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi to get a more realistic picture of water point functionality and therefore water coverage figures; 3. to investigate in detail 50 water points in each country by taking apart the water points and pumps, testing the local groundwater conditions, examining the renewability of groundwater and exploring in detail the local water committee; 4. we will also build on this information to forecast future rural water supply coverage by modelling the impact on water points of various potential future pathways; and 5. finally we will use all this information to develop an approach for building resilience into future rural water supply programmes and helping people decide when it is worth rehabilitating failed sources. To carry out this ground breaking research we have brought together a consortium, led by the British Geological Survey, of leading interdisciplinary UK researchers at BGS, KCL, ODI and Cambridge with groundwater academics from three highly regarded African universities (Universities of Addis Ababa, Mekerere and Malawi), and WaterAid, a leading NGO on developing rural water supply services across Africa with a history of innovation. The research has the potential to have a major impact on the delivery of reliable clean water throughout Africa, and if the results can be taken up widely break the pattern of repeated failure.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/M020509/1
    Funder Contribution: 41,470 GBP
    Partners: University of Malawi

    Central and Southern Africa (C&SA) exemplifies the issues that FCFA aims to address: a complex mix of remote and regional climate drivers that challenge conventional climate model simulations, high levels of poorly simulated multi-year climate variability, an extremely low level of investment in climate science relative even to other parts of Africa but particularly West Africa; high physical and socio-economic exposure to climate that projections indicate may become drier and more variable in the future; and low adaptive capacity resulting in decision-making and medium-term planning that is inhibited by significant political, institutional and economic barriers. Meanwhile economic growth and significant infrastructure planning is taking place within C&SA in the absence of adequate climate information. Deficient understanding of many key climate features in C&SA is one barrier to the integration of climate information into decision-making. UMFULA will provide a step-change in climate science in C&SA. Our objectives include: (i) fundamental research into key climate processes over C&SA and how these are dealt with in models; (ii) a process-based evaluation to determine how models invoke change and whether that change is credible; (iii) production of novel climate products (Work Packages WP1-2) encompassing convection permitting and very high resolution (c4 km) ocean-atmosphere coupled simulations that will reveal processes of high impact events and as yet unexplored complexities of the climate change signal. We will also focus on neglected but critical elements of the circulation such as the links between C&SA and the role of local features including the Angolan Low, Botswana anticyclone, Angola/Benguela Frontal Zone, and the Seychelles-Chagos thermocline ridge. Based on this research and through co-production with stakeholders we will generate improved and streamlined climate information for decision-makers (WP3). We will use a deliberative and participatory methodology to test findings from FCFA pillars 1 and 2 with stakeholders based on deep engagement in two contrasting case studies: the Rufiji river basin in Tanzania, and sub-national decision-making in Malawi. They are carefully selected as exemplars of multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, and multi-scale decision situations which can be compared for transferable lessons on the effective use of climate services. In-depth understanding of decision-making contexts, including political economy, theories of institutional change, and individual motivation from behavioural sciences will inform how to tailor and target climate projections for most effective use (WP4). The case study areas (WP5-6) will test these findings through a co-produced framework of C&SA-appropriate decision-making under climate uncertainty to identify robust climate services-informed intervention pathways (portfolios of policies and investments that could work well over a broad range of climatic and socio-economic futures). Our Capstone Work Package (WP7), and major outcome, will be the synthesis of best decision-making models and appraisal methods that are transferable in the African context and enable effective use of climate information in medium-term decision-making. The seven UMFULA Work Packages cut across the three FCFA pillars to ensure maximum complementarity and integration. We are a consortium with world-leading expertise in climate science, decision science and adaptation research and practice, together with stakeholder networks and strong, long-standing relationships in C&SA. We comprise 5 UK and 13 African institutions.

  • Project . 2019 - 2021
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/T003723/1
    Funder Contribution: 151,455 GBP
    Partners: University of Malawi

    Anaemia remains a major public health problem to control in sub-Saharan Africa due to its complex causes which vary from not only direct health diseases (like iron deficiency, malaria etc) but to many predisposing causes in the the environment, culture, poverty and inequalities, and poor health and governance systems. Furthermore, anaemia control suffers from disjointed, fragmented approaches with individual programmes using different definitions of anaemia and tackling the problem from different perspectives. We aim to develop an interdisciplinary network that can lead in the control of this intractable challenge of anaemia in sub-Saharan Africa by leading cutting-edge research and facilitating the uptake and implementation of innovative solutions to prevent anaemia. We will bring together scientific experts in nutrition, food technology, global health, agriculture, social science, psychology, molecular biology and economics. We shall further include representatives of policy makers, international donor agencies, non-governmental organizations, commercial companies working in drug and food manufacturing and the public. They will firstly raise the awareness of the need for an inter-sectorial and harmonized approach to its control and secondly develop a strategic plan for research and programme implementation.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/J00104X/1
    Funder Contribution: 339,683 GBP
    Partners: University of Malawi, Malawi Department of Forestry

    [Proposal EE112/ K1396905] Predicting the impacts of global change on rural communities is increasingly challenging due to the accelerating pace of climate change and social and economic development. The combined demands of ensuring food, energy and water security have been described as a "Perfect Storm" by Prof Sir John Beddington, HM Government's Chief Scientific adviser. It is clear that food security will continue to remain a critical issue in developing countries due to the unpredictable nature of food chains and the effects of climate change. Food security in poor rural communities often relies significantly on flows of ecosystem services from 'natural' environments. For millennia mankind has engaged in thinking and learning experiences which have shaped the processes underpinning the production of food and the management of land, addressing multiple factors and tradeoffs. However, many food production systems require intensive management and are prone to failure outside of the range of their optimal environmental conditions. Concerns are growing about the ability of current agricultural systems to support rising human populations without further degrading critical ecosystem services (such as water provisioning, pollination). During extreme events, such as drought, or other shocks or crises (environmental, social or economic), the dependence of rural communities on ecosystem services to meet their nutritional and livelihood needs often increases. This highlights the importance of minimising the impacts of agricultural systems on ecosystems and the services they provide. Strategies for coping with food insecurity may, in turn, have an impact on the capacity of ecosystems to deliver ecosystem services as the spatial and temporal nature of feedbacks between socio-economic and ecological systems can be complex. Addressing the sustainability of natural resource management and rural livelihoods requires integrated thinking across disciplines. The complex transformations which can, or have already occurred from natural forest to managed landscapes must be fully understood so that systems can be adopted which promote sustainable transformations and/or can mitigate any negative impacts. This proposal therefore brings together expertise in social sciences, economics, ecology, risk management, spatial planning, climate change and complexity sciences to design and integrate a suite of models and methods to analyse how dynamic stocks and flows of ecosystem services translate to local-level food security and nutritional health. The study will examine the multiple (and multi-directional) links between ecosystem services, food security and maternal and child health outcomes in poor rural communities, addressing three main themes: 1. Drivers, pressures and linkages between food security, nutritional health and ecosystem services; 2. Crises and tipping points: Past, present and future interactions between food insecurity and ecosystem services at the forest-agricultural interface; 3. The science-policy interface: How can we manage ecosystem services to reduce food insecurity and increase nutritional health? Analysis of household and intra-household nutritional status and assessment and mapping of ecosystem services at the relevant spatial scales will be conducted in sites in Colombia and Malawi, which are characterised by mosaics of forests and agricultural lands, to explore the trade-offs and tipping points associated with managing these dynamic landscapes under climate and socio-economic change. Powerful new models will predict how ecosystem services will be changed by drivers and pressures for human wellbeing and food security. This will allow risk management/mitigation models and strategies to be developed which can inform national and regional policy in order to maintain ecosystems and support human wellbeing.