Walikunda – A Field Site for Entomological Research

6 February 2019

A Hub for Studying Mosquito Behaviour and Ecology. The Walikunda Field Site was established in 1977 by a team of entomologists led by Professor M T Gillies from Sussex University Mosquito Behavioural Unit, along the South Bank of the River Gambia 100Km from Basse. Most of the entomological research projects conducted at the MRCG at LSHTM are hosted at the  Walikunda site. The facilities at Walikunda were upgraded in 2012 with modern structures and amenities and the site continues to serves as a hub for studying mosquito behavior and ecology.

Walikunda New Laboratory

The following operational research on improving rural housing in sub-Saharan Africa as a strategy to support malaria elimination studies and experiments were conducted at Walikunda from 2016 to 2018.

• To determine best methods for measuring airflow in rural African houses. This study looked at how air movement inside Gambian houses is best measured in an attempt to relate this to mosquito entry and comfort levels. The study was funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust.

• To measure the impact of different building designs on mosquito house entry. This study examined how five different typologies of houses affect mosquito house entry and indoor climate. The study was funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust.

• To determine the effect of applying different screening interventions on mosquito house entry. Three experiments were carried out using five single-roomed experimental houses with gaps at the top and bottom of each door. Two individuals slept in each house to attract mosquitoes, which were collected indoors using sampling device called Centre for Disease Control (CDC) miniature light traps. Experiment 1 explored how badly-fitting doors alone affected mosquito house entry. Experiments 2 and 3 determined whether screened windows of different sizes affected mosquito house entry. The study was funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. To look at the impact of screened self-closing doors on mosquito house entry. This study assessed the protective efficacy of four novel screened doors and two windows designs against mosquito house entry, their impact on indoor climate, as well as their use, durability and acceptability in the village. The study was funded by the Global Good Fund.

Visitors Sleeping Huts

• To measure the effect of roof colour on indoor temperature. This study looked at the effect of roof colours on temperature and relative humidity inside the rooms. Two rooms had their roof painted white, red or plain metal sheets and a pair of data loggers placed inside the room to periodically measure relative humidity and temperature. The results showed that rooms with white roofs had a lower temperature than red roof houses. The study was funded by the Sir Halley Steward Trust.

All the Walikunda based studies were supervised by Musa Jawara, Unit Entomologist MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM and Dr Margaret Pinder Epidemiologist Durham University, England. The studies were carried out in collaboration with Professor Steven Lindsay, Durham University, England and Professor Jakob Knudsen from the Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture Design and Conservation, Kunstakakemiets Arkitektur Design Og Konservere (KADK), Denmark. However, the experiments and studies were conducted by Mahamed Abdi and Amalie Tilma from KADK and Ebrima Jatta, postgraduate trainee from The Gambia National Malaria Control Programme. The results have been disseminated to the communities who participated in the studies. These two articles (1) New Prototype Screened Doors and Windows for Excluding Mosquitoes from Houses: a Pilot Study in Rural Gambia and (2) Metal-roofed houses may contribute to a decline in malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa, have been accepted in peer review journals, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Lancet Planetary Health respectively for publication.

Two other articles, (1) Importance of screened windows for reducing malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and (2) The effect of different typologies of rural houses on mosquito-house entry and indoor climate: an experimental study in rural Gambia have been submitted.