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A socio-geospatial framework for understanding the land use, water quality and human health landscape in sub-Saharan Africa

Authors: Cyril Wilson*, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Fenda A Akiwumi, University of South Florida, Imelda K Moise, University of Miami, Sigismond A Wilson, Rogers State University, Solomon Gbanie, University of Sierra Leone
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Water Resources and Hydrology, Africa
Keywords: Land use/land cover, water quality, human health, mixed modeling, Sierra Leone
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Modifications to land use/land cover (LULC) affects fresh water supply and quality with potential negative implications for human health. This impact can be more severe in the most vulnerable areas of the developing world such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where current and immediate past socioecological and economic conditions have not been favorable for water supply, water quality, and human health. The LULC – water quality landscape and its potential impacts on human health is mostly elusive in SSA. This calls for modeling frameworks that can aid in untangling the interwoven and rather complex relationship to better understand waterborne disease dynamics in SSA. This study employed a mixed modeling approach by integrating (i) geospatial technologies of remote sensing and spatial statistical modeling in consonance with (ii) qualitative analysis of social survey to gauge the role of LULC and water quality on human health in the Rokel-Seli River basin, Sierra Leone. The Rokel-Seli River is the longest and one of the most important rivers in the country supporting a major hydroelectric dam, a plethora of agricultural activities, gold, and iron ore mining. LULC information was derived from Landsat-8 satellite image; spatial statistical modeling was employed to evaluate the linkages between LULC, water quality, and human health. Results of this study demonstrates the importance of a mixed modeling approach in elucidating the complex relationships between LULC, water quality, and human health in SSA.

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