Mosquitoes are pests all around the world. They carry a wide array of diseases and viruses, including malaria, Zika and West Nile viruses and dengue fever, which just had its worst year of outbreak in 2019.
Leading to debilitating and fatal consequences such as encephalitis, meningitis and microcephaly, mosquitoes pose a serious threat to communities. Given the species thrives in humid and wet conditions, the dangers are particularly rife for those living in tropical climates.
Thankfully, there are steps people can take to reduce the impact this species can cause. In this article, we explore why developing countries subject to humid weather are most at risk, and what can be done to minimise harm while improving the environment.
Why do mosquitoes thrive in developing countries?
Mosquitoes multiply with ease in tropical conditions — and one of the reasons why is because still and stagnant water provides the perfect breeding ground. Undisturbed water can manifest in a number of locations, including:
· Inside an old tyre
· A child’s plastic pool
· Plastic containers holding water
· Any bodies of water without any flow
· Even a tin can
A lack of water flow is especially relevant to developing countries; many poorly constructed waterways, such as footbridge canals, do not facilitate any current. To make matters worse, rubbish from the streets chokes these waterways, and more stagnant bodies of water are created as water becomes trapped. In these waterways, plastic collects and holds its own water from rainfall, providing even more environments for mosquitoes to breed.
Who is most at risk of infection by mosquitoes?
Countries like Indonesia are susceptible to extreme mosquito danger. With poor infrastructure and even poorer waste management practices, Bali’s waterways are polluted with an abundance of plastic. Only 48 per cent of Bali’s trash is managed responsibly via recycling or landfill. The other 52 per cent ends up on the streets, in the waterways and ultimately in the oceans.
Other regions subject to danger include Latin America. For example, Brazil is the fourth-largest producer of plastic waste in the world, and is estimated to recycle a mere 1.28 per cent of the 11.4 million tonnes of annually produced waste. It’s likely to be no coincidence there were 200,000 Zika virus infections in Brazil during its 2015–16 epidemic. Effects of the virus included extreme neurological damage to children.
In Africa, Kenya also faces high levels of plastic pollution, leaving 90 per cent of its land in a “non-sanitary” condition. Couple this with above-average rainfall, and you have conditions ripe for disease. In the county of Elgeyo-Marakwet, one death and 135 cases of malaria were reported in one week of January 2020. This shows how quickly the species can cause damage.
With a clear relationship between plastic pollution and mosquito dangers around the globe, action must be taken.
What can be done to lessen the dangers of mosquitoes?
With at least 110,000 cases of dengue fever recorded in Indonesia last year, it’s clear that mosquitoes continue to jeopardise the health of both locals and tourists in Bali.
A part of solving this issue comes down to improving the flow of waterways, which cancels out opportunities for mosquitoes to grow in stagnant water. Steps must be taken to better educate authorities and locals about the correlation between waste and mosquitoes, and new ways of working to collect trash need to be explored.
As 3,500 tonnes of rubbish are created per day in Bali, change is needed to protect the environment and those who are in it. Redux is a new tech platform that aims to address this issue, head on.
Via the Redux website, residents in developing countries can find paid work cleaning up streets in local areas. This helps to improve water flow, effectively reducing the threat of mosquitoes. Jobs are funded by other people all around the world who pledge a donation via the app.
Soon you will be able to become an Ocean Ambassador and clean up a street in Bali at www.redux.org.