The thesis involved an assessment of the impact of climate variability on malaria epidemic around Mount Elgon of Bududa district, Uganda. The specific objectives were to investigate certain impacts of climate variability influencing malaria epidemic and to explore people’s awareness of the possible association between climate variability and malaria, and corresponding copying strategies in their communities.
Climate variability refers to variations in the mean state of climate on all temporal and spatial scales far than that of individual weather events. Climate variation is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. The variation is also due to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. In Uganda including Bududa district malaria has become high and rampant in high altitude areas like 1800 meters above sea level in recent years.
The Human ecological model was used as an analytical tool for the study to explain the impacts of climate variability influencing malaria. The human ecology model is a theoretical and analytical framework that fairly explains the objectives under study and can be used for local level studies. However, the model doesn’t explain some external linkages like political issues or factors either at local, national and international levels. Concepts explaining causes of climate variability, risk factors, climate variability and health concept, controlling and preventing malaria out break all contributed in the flow of arguments of the findings.
A qualitative method of data collection was used. For this study, information was collected using formal interviews, informal interviews, observation, focused group discussion and secondary data. An interview guide was used. Quantitative approaches were also used to a smaller extent to look at relationships between age, education level, gender and place of residence. It was also used in presenting some secondary information like rainfall and temperature data, and malaria cases for Bududa district. Informants were selected through purposive sampling. 10 key informant interviews, 18 individual interviews with local community members and 12 female members of the community from the lower (Buwanabisi with 1400m asl), middle (Bumakuma with 2000m asl) and higher (Bufukhula with 2500m asl) villages for focused group discussion to collect primary data.
Findings revealed that Bududa district is experiencing increasing outbreak of diseases such as malaria. Malaria has even become common in areas of the high altitude which didn't have malaria cases in the past. Injuries and loss of lives all have been attributed to the variation in climate besides other risk factors. More frequent occurrence of heavy rainfall and extreme weather conditions (temperature) has direct effects in the spread of malaria to the upper village (Bufukhula) and more frequent to the lower area (Buwanabisi) by creating suitable breeding grounds for the mosquito vector. Extreme weather has caused landslides, damage to houses and infrastructure to the people in the higher altitude village of Bufukhula contributing to migration (permanent or temporary) to the lower area which are more malaria infected, hence creating an indirect effect of climate. Those from the higher altitude village are prone to malaria attack due to reduced immune system and low experience in protection against mosquitoes and malaria. Awareness of climate variability and existence of strategy at the individual and community, district, and national level is still low and limited. Copying strategies to the impacts of climate variability are of three types: Adaptation and active adjustments, acceptance and migration at different levels ranging from individual and community, district and national level. Possible recommendations for risk reduction for vector control and malaria were made by the informants and the researcher.