Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Update — Modelling Health Impacts of Climate Change in Malawi Through the Context of Cyclone Freddy

Update — Modelling Health Impacts of Climate Change in Malawi Through the Context of Cyclone Freddy

Post

Published on October 6, 2023

Malawi was ravaged by the month-long Cyclone Freddy, which caused widespread devastation and death. The Lake Chilwa basin settlements in south-eastern Malawi remain flooded following severe rains, posing higher risks from infectious diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis, and cholera. Crop damage caused by the tropical storm has further aggravated malnutrition.

A picture of Lake Chilwa in flood stage
Lake Chilwa in flood stage (5 months after Cyclone Freddy)

In August 2023, our MHICCM team held our final in-country workshop in Zomba, Malawi. The objectives of this workshop were to:

  1. Visit the basin to document damage caused by Cyclone Freddy
  2. Fill identified gaps in health data
  3. Finalize research outputs and develop delivery timeline
  4. Establish new relationships for future partnerships

This was our second in-person and on-site meeting. From August 17 to August 25, we conducted drone mapping surveys in the Chilwa and Likangala river basins, met with numerous ministry officials in Zomba, Lilongwe, and Blantyre about health data, strengthened existing partnerships with the University of Malawi leadership, and formed new relationships with three local non-profit organizations. We also organized a two-day joint symposium with Indabax Malawi and the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and STEM (CAIST) at the Malawi University of Science and Technology in Blantyre, Malawi.

The participants included:

  • Faculty: Dr. James Orbinski, Principal Investigator (PI) (Dahdaleh Institute); Dr. Sosten Chiotha, Co-PI & LEAD Regional Program Director; Dr. Richard Matthew (UCI), Advisor-Climate Change policy; Dr. Ali Asgary (York University), Advisor-Agent-based Modelling
  • Research fellows: Dr. Jochen Schubert, Researcher (UCI); Dr. Mohammadali Tofighi, Postdoctoral Fellow (DI); Dr. James Chirombo, Global Health Fellow; Patrick Likongwe, Research Fellow (LEAD)
  • Graduate students: Nilanjana Ganguli, Project Manager & PhD student (York University); Ann Jacee Le, PhD Candidate (UCI)
  • By invitation: Vanessa van Schoor, Consultant; Sphiwe Nyalugwe, LEAD Community Engagement Officer

Workshop agenda and description of activities:

Day 1: Site visit to Lake Chilwa and Likangala irrigation schemes and round-table meeting with the University of Malawi Leadership

Day 2: Site visit to Chiradzulu where a devastating landslide triggered by Cyclone Freddy swept up the entire village. Dr. Ali Asgary led a small team that undertook a drone survey to build a high-quality 3D model of the site in order to create a virtual reality (VR) simulation of the landslide region. This VR model will be used to create numerous landslide scenarios based on the landslide/mudslide occurrences that occurred in this area during Cyclone Freddy. The VR application can be used for public education about landslide hazards and their impacts, as well as emergency management exercises as a visualization tool in the disaster and emergency management field. A prototype version of this VR application was presented at the "Climate Change, Extreme Events, Public Health & Resettlement in Malawi: Public, Policy, Science & Technology Perspectives, Leveraging Deep Learning and Data Science Solutions"  joint symposium in Blantyre (see below).

Day 3: Meeting with Ministry of Health, Malawi Red Cross, Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Nutrition & Agricultural Extension Services in Lilongwe

Day 4: Writing Workshop

Day 5: Partnership engagement with local NGOs: Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO); Art & Global Health Center Africa (ARTGlo) and Chanco Community Radio.

Last day at the LEAD offices in Zomba (From left to right: Riya Orbinski (intern); Nilanjana Ganguli (project manager and PhD student, Sphiwe Nyalugwe (Community Engagement Officer, LEAD SEA); Alice Chirwa (Finance and Administration Officer, LEAD); Ann Le Holland (PhD candidate, UC, Irvine)

Day 6:  Climate Change, Extreme Events, Public Health & Resettlement in Malawi: Public, Policy, Science & Technology Perspectives, Leveraging Deep Learning and Data Science Solutions Joint Symposium with Indabax Malawi & Center for Artificial Intelligence and STEM (CAIST) at the Malawi University of Science and Technology in Blantyre.

Themes

Global Health & Humanitarianism

Status

Active

Related Work

Updates

N/A

People

James Orbinski, Director (On sabbatical Sept 2023 – Feb 2024)
Mohammadali Tofighi, Postdoctoral Fellow, ADERSIM
Ali Asgary, Faculty Fellow, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Nilanjana Ganguli, Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar, Planetary Health

You may also be interested in...