Jakob Knudsen

Will raised buildings reduce malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and keep homes cool

Will raised buildings reduce malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and keep homes cool

Principal investigator

Steve Lindsay

Department of Biosciences, Durham University, UK


  1. Jakob Knudsen

    The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark (KADK)


  2. Musa Jawara

  3. Margaret Pinder

  4. Umberto d’ Alessandro

    Medical Research Councils Unit The Gambia at the LSHTM, Fajara, The Gambia

Lay Summary

Nearly all traditional rural African houses are single-storey buildings built on the ground. The open design of many local houses allows malaria mosquitoes to freely enter the building at night to bite the occupants and transmit malaria. Since most malaria mosquitoes fly low to the ground, raising a house off the ground could reduce mosquito-house entry. Whilst there is evidence suggesting this is the case, further support is needed and it is not known what heights are critical to reduce substantially the entry of malaria mosquitoes. In this study we will explore this using four identical experimental huts in The Gambia, each one at 0m, 1m, 2m and 3m above the ground. Two men will sleep in each house and mosquitoes will be collected indoors using light traps. We will record indoor climate and air exchange using data loggers. Each week the height of each hut will change, so that after eight weeks, each house will have been at each height eight times. In this way we can adjust for the variation in mosquito attractiveness due to position, e.g. one hut may be more attractive to the others since it is closer to a source of mosquitoes. Conversations will be held with men and women from local villages to explore the acceptability of building houses above ground. This study will provide fundamental information on the degree that the height of a building above ground will reduce the number of mosquitoes entering it and the extent that this will make the building cooler. A house with few mosquitoes and a moderate climate will reduce the risk of malaria, and other mosquito-transmitted diseases, and provide a comfortable night’s sleep for the occupants. If successful, the findings from this study will provide the evidence needed to make recommendations on house design in sub-Saharan Africa and will influence international policy on the construction of healthy homes.