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Fighting mosquitoes by understanding them better

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The Fighting Mosquito-borne Illnesses through STEM Education project

In Suriname there are a lot of mosquitoes, everyone knows that. Besides the many innocent, but still annoying types of mosquitoes, we also have a few dangerous species that can transmit diseases to humans, just think of the Aedes aegypti also known as the dengue mosquito. This mosquito can not only transmit dengue but also Chikungunya, yellow fever and one of the worst, Zika. Zika is a problem all over the world due to the fact that it can cause birth defects and can be transferred from person to person through body fluids, such as saliva. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in the vicinity of people in breeding sites that are usually created by humans such as vases, planters, rain barrels and waste. That is why Green Heritage Fund Suriname started funding the American embassy in 2017 with the “Fighting Mosquito-borne Illnesses through STEM Education” project.

The aim of this project is to teach people more about mosquitoes, their life cycle, the breeding habitats and the diseases that they can transfer to humans. Furthermore, an app has been developed for this project called the GLOBE Mosquito Habitat Mapper. With this app, breeding sites can be mapped and larvae identified. This information is all included in the visualization system of GLOBE that shows where, which breeding sites have been found, how many larvae have been found and from which mosquito these larvae originate. The idea behind this is to teach citizens more about mosquitoes and actively involve them in the fight against them. The intention is to take preventive action by monitoring the breeding habitats and mosquito populations and, if possible, removing them. If it turns out that many breeding grounds or a lot of mosquito larvae have been found, it means that there are a lot of mosquitoes present. In that case, timely intervention can be made by the responsible authorities such as the BOG (one of the partners within this project), the District Commissioner or the Ministry of Public Health. Furthermore, citizens learn to pay attention to their environment and help fight mosquitoes by collecting data and removing potential breeding grounds.

Green Heritage Fund Suriname organized 4 GLOBE mosquito trainings in 2018. A total of 116 people were trained, including teachers, members of various neighborhood, youth and women organizations and boy scouts. During these trainings we discussed the mosquitoes, the importance of collecting data and the participants learned to work with the app. Green Heritage Fund Suriname has also been to the schools of some teachers who participated in the training and carried out the project with the students.

Adults and children who participated in the training indicated that they now understand the importance of a clean environment. Everything in which water can remain is a potential breeding ground. Furthermore, they also indicated that they consider this project important because data can be collected, something that according to the participants still does too little in Suriname.You can also contribute to the control of mosquitoes in Suriname by downloading the GLOBE Mosquito Habitat Mapper.

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