Examining the role of climate change in the transmission of enteric pathogens in a low-resource neighbourhoods of Maputo, Mozambique

Principal Supervisor:  Jacqueline Knee (LSHTM)

Co-Supervisor:  Aideen Foley (Birkbeck) & Oliver Cumming (LSHTM)

Project Description

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to global public health in the 21st century, with increases in temperature and the frequency and intensity of flooding, droughts, and severe storms likely to increase the global burden of infectious disease, including diarrhoea. Vulnerability to climate change is likely to be highest in low- and middle-income countries, including in cities like Maputo, Mozambique that must also address urgent challenges like rapid urbanisation, lack of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, and high disease burden2. In such urban contexts, these challenges can put pressure on existing sanitation systems, increasing the risk of pathogen exposure and disease3.

The aim of this PhD will be to characterise present and future enteric pathogen exposure and diarrhoeal disease risks associated with flooding events in Maputo, Mozambique. The specific objectives include:

  1. To assess the relationship between rainfall, reported flooding, and enteric pathogen exposure and reported diarrhoea between 2015 – 2023 in Maputo, Mozambique
  2. To predict risk of enteric pathogen exposure in Maputo, Mozambique due to flooding under several future climate and population growth scenarios.
  3. To describe perceptions of risk, opportunities, and challenges related to climate change, sanitation, disease, and their interplay among community members and organisers, sanitation workers, and government officials in Maputo.

This work will help to fill a critical evidence gap for how flooding influences infectious disease risk in low-resource coastal cities like Maputo which are threatened by the dual challenges of climate change and rapid, often informal, urban population growth. The successful applicant will join the Environmental Health Group (EHG) at LSHTM, a group of 30 academics with expertise in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The student will be co-advised by a member of the Environment, Landscape and Climate Change Research Cluster in the Department of Geography at Birkbeck which has a strong focus on effective adaptation to future climate change.

Key References

Levy K, Woster AP, Goldstein RS, et al. Untangling the Impacts of Climate Change on Waterborne Diseases: a Systematic Review of Relationships between Diarrheal Diseases and Temperature, Rainfall, Flooding, and Drought. Environmental Science & Technology 2016 doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b06186

Knee, J., Sumner, T., Adriano, Z., Anderson, C., Bush, F., Capone, D., … & Brown, J. (2021). Effects of an urban sanitation intervention on childhood enteric infection and diarrhea in Maputo, Mozambique: a controlled before-and-after trial. Elife10, e62278.

Howard G, Calow R, Macdonald A, et al. Climate Change and Water and Sanitation: Likely Impacts and Emerging Trends for Action. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 2016;41:253-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev-environ-110615-085856

Hyde-Smith, L., Zhan, Z., Roelich, K., Mdee, A., & Evans, B. (2022). Climate Change Impacts on Urban Sanitation: A Systematic Review and Failure Mode Analysis. Environmental science & technology56(9), 5306-5321

Further details about the project may be obtained from

Principal Supervisor:        Jacqueline Knee (LSHTM):

Co-Supervisor:       Aideen Foley (Birkbeck) Oliver Cumming (LSHTM)

How to apply

Further information on how to apply: https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/study/fees-funding/funding-scholarships/2023-24-bloomsbury-colleges-phd-studentship-project-2

Closing date for applications is: 
March 2, 2023