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Solar Power Helps In The Battle Against Malaria

 

by Energy Matters

Solar panel powers mosquito trap
The Netherland's Wageningen University is leading a project to install 4,000 solar powered mosquito traps on the Kenyan island of Rusinga.
   
The initiative started on April 25, World Malaria Day; marking the beginning of a four year endeavour to eradicate malaria from the island without the use of insecticides. 
  
A "suna" (local word for mosquito") trap, a locally produced solar panel, two light fixtures and a mobile phone charging point will be installed at each residence at a rate of fifty houses a week.
  
The traps contain a natural attractant and once inside the mosquitos are killed by dehydration. The power for the trap ventilators is provided by the solar panel.
  
Harvesting energy from the sun for this initiative is more than just a warm and fuzzy approach or one focused on reducing carbon emissions - the overuse of insecticides has led to resistance in malaria mosquitos, making the disease harder to battle and environmental damage greater.
  
Research leader Willem Takken says it is highly unlikely the mosquitoes will develop an aversion to the natural odorant used in the Suna trap as it mimics the smell of its food source - humans.
  
A pilot project demonstrated that the traps are effective and that the local population is happy to use them - particularly given the added bonus of having lighting in their homes and a power source for recharging their phones. 
  
According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), half the world's population live in areas at risk of malaria transmission. In 2010, malaria was responsible for around 216 million clinical episodes and 655,000 deaths. Children under the age of 5 are most at risk from dying from the disease.
  
Direct costs and excluding lost economic growth attributable to malaria have been estimated to be at least US$ 12 billion per year.
   
Australia was certified as being malaria free in 1981; however, it's possible local spread of malaria could occur again if infected people travel to areas where the Anopheles mosquito is present.
 
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