Written By: Emma Websdale
A new solar-powered mosquito trap is showing promising signs of reducing malaria contraction in families living on Rusinga Island, in western Kenya.
Kenyan and Dutch researchers have designed a new solar-operated device, similar to a mosquito zapper, which shows promising signs of reducing malaria outbreaks. Nylon strips soaked with artificial human scent lure mosquitoes to the device, which traps the mosquitoes.
The device’s installation, outside traditional tin-roofed mud and daub houses on Rusinga Island, is an attempt to reduce malaria outbreaks in one of western Kenya’s most vulnerable areas. With the island exposed to year-round heat, increasing temperatures provide optimum conditions for mosquitoes to breed in increasing numbers. Conditions on the island also make it particularly well suited for hosting solar-powered technologies.
According to the World Health Organisation, in Kenya alone, malaria accounts for about 35,000 deaths per year, with children being particularly vulnerable to the disease. The solar-powered mosquito trap aims to reduce malaria outbreaks and deaths by decreasing the region’s dependency on insecticides and thereby curbing an increase in insecticide-resistant strains of mosquitoes.
Currently, the device is being tested at 470 households, where it provides enough energy to power two light bulbs and a charging point for mobile phones while offering families greater protection against mosquitoes.
With Rusinga Island home to 22,000 residents, the backers of the device plan to begin selling it commercially within the next year for the whole island to receive its benefits.
According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Shanaz Sharif, Kenya’s director of public health predicts the device could “reduce the burden of public spending toward treating malaria, which is about $100 million per year.” Sharif also confirms that hospital records for malaria in the region have shown a reduction in contraction of the disease over the past year.
Also highlighting how green technology can transform the lives of those living in developing countries is the “Iconic Island Initiative”. The initiative, which aims to power an isolated Indonesian island by 100% renewable energy, will replace the island’s kerosene, an expensive, highly polluting, and hazardous fuel.