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Malaria reduction resulting in improved health and well being, increased agricultural productivity, and poverty alleviation.
To promote research and capacity building that will increase the understanding on the links between malaria and agriculture, and to test innovative interventions that would reinforce existing malaria control strategies under different agricultural systems. This is expected to be achieved by aiming for three outputs, which are summarized below:
1. Knowledge base expanded
This output aims to expand the knowledge base on the impacts of agriculture on malaria, the impacts of malaria on agricultural productivity, and on innovative anti-malaria interventions.
2. Trans-disciplinary research capacity built
This output aims to strengthen research capacity in malaria-endemic countries, with a focus on fostering the capability to execute trans-disciplinary research.
3. Research information disseminated
This output aims to disseminate the results from SIMA research projects to health, agricultural and development sectors in malaria-endemic countries.
What is SIMA?
The Systemwide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture (SIMA) was proposed in October 2000 during the annual CGIAR meeting in Washington DC. The decision was prompted by a growing awareness among researchers, policy makers and donor agencies concerning the widespread adverse impacts of malaria. With an estimated 300-500 million people getting sick with malaria every year and more than one million deaths occurring due to the disease over the same period, malaria is one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality globally. The vast majority of malaria cases (90%) are in Africa, where the disease is also associated with economic losses estimated at up to US$ 12 billion annually. The disease has a devastating effect on the development potential of African nations as a whole, and mostly affects the underprivileged and economically vulnerable groups. Against this background of deteriorating malaria situation and severe economic hardships, particularly in Africa, there is an urgent need to develop sustainable methods for control of the disease
Agriculture in spite of providing many well-known socio-economic, nutritional and health benefits can also contribute to an increase in malaria risks. For instance, irrigating land for rice cultivation, livestock keeping, and the use of pesticides for crop protection are all known to play a role in malaria transmission risks. Convinced that malaria and agricultural development were closely intertwined, the CGIAR in launching SIMA envisioned the initiative as offering a platform upon which knowledge gaps in the complex interrelationships could be addressed. In particular it was envisaged that SIMA would spearhead the search for opportunities to minimize malaria risks through research partnerships relying on expertise from agriculture, health, and other relevant sectors. The research, it was hoped, could focus on the development of intervention strategies targeting the mosquito-human host interface, including those that are dependent on a general improvement in socio-economic status of rural communities.
With due regard to previous research and opinions on malaria and agriculture, SIMA’s initial activities concentrated on seeking views from a wide cross-section of stakeholders, in order to formulate an appropriate framework for promoting relevant research and capacity-building especially in Africa. The stakeholder consultation process included the following:
- An electronic conference that was held between February and April 2001. More than 200 people subscribed to the SIMA e-list and many among them participated in the discussion. The outcome was an informal synthesis report that was later used as the basis for further consultation.
- A stakeholder consolation workshop that was held at ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya in May 2001. The meeting was attended by 40 participants drawn from CGIAR Centres, donor representatives and scientists from national health and agricultural research programs of six countries in the eastern and southern African region. A SIMA Action Plan outlining the key elements and time frame for the initiative was produced at the meeting, thus significantly contributing to further development of the substantive SIMA Proposal.
- The first substantive SIMA draft proposal was prepared in October 2001, the document was completed in July 2002 and posted on the SIMA website for inputs by interested individual researchers and stakeholder institutions. In November 2002, the SIMA Proposal received a critical appraisal from an independent review panel conducting IWMI (the convening institute of SIMA)’s Centre-Commissioned External Review (CCER) for the Water, Health and Environment theme. Criticism and suggestions from the review panel (and other stakeholders) were discussed at various levels, leading to the development of the current SIMA Framework Document in August 2003. It was agreed that the document would form the basis on which SIMA would be operationalized from 2003 onwards.
Today SIMA is fully operational, and is governed by an effective structure comprising of a Management Team (consists of a representative from the convening institute, a representative from another CGIAR Centre, 4 representatives of national and international partner organizations, and the SIMA Coordinator), a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (consists of 11 eminent scientists designated in their personal capacities as experts in specific areas of knowledge), the SIMA Secretariat (consists of a Coordinator, a Deputy Coordinator, a Program Officer, and a Researcher) and the SIMA/IWMI Working Group (consists of approximately 6 scientists from the convening institute, including the SIMA Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator). The SIMA Secretariat is based at the IWMI Regional Office for Africa, Pretoria, South Africa. The Initiative has a number of substantive projects that are being implemented in different countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa (including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe). The research is focused on the characterization of a representative range of agroecosystems with the view of minimizing malaria transmission risks through improved water, livestock and general environmental management. In addition to these ongoing research projects, SIMA has, in the past few years of its existence, organized a number of “Agriculture and Malaria” related scientific meetings (e.g., seminars, workshops) and published a significant number of scientific papers (including a special Acta Tropica journal issue on Malaria and Agriculture; Volume 89, Issue 2, Pages 95-261; that was published in January 2004, with Dr. Wim van der Hoek from the IWMI/SIMA Working Group as guest editor. The special issue contains approximately 15 papers that have been presented during SIMA seminars at international conferences).