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Health as an Ecosystem Service Around Tanzanian Lakes

Health as an Ecosystem Service Around Tanzanian Lakes and National Parks

2010-15 Seed Grant

Although sub-Saharan Africa’s national parks provide significant foreign currency to the government, the revenues they generate are rarely invested in the surrounding community health systems. Rural natives living in the parks’ vicinity have minimal access to basic health care, and many by default rely on traditional healers for treatment for zoonotic and vector-borne diseases.

This project investigates the dynamics and control of zoonotic and vector-borne disease in East Africa and the ‘ecosystem service’ that biodiversity plays in buffering and reducing disease outbreaks. How much do local people benefit from the presence of national parks? Specifically, do the parks serve as sources of ‘trickle down’ revenue from tourism to the local community, or as sources of ‘trickle down’ infections that impact their health and that of their livestock? Alternatively, does the park present a significant opportunity cost through loss of land for forage and crops? Or does it in turn protect local people and domestic livestock from disease outbreaks through the presence of host species that are preferred by vectors, or by other biological mechanisms that buffer disease outbreaks and improve water quality and volume? The research will address the health and economic costs and benefits of conserving biodiversity in the national parks and wildlife reserves.

Collaborating institutions

  • National Institute of Medical Research - Tanzania

Principal Investigator

Andrew Dobson

Andrew Dobson, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Faculty person