Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France




Malaria is a complex parasitic disease confined mostly to tropical areas and transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. According to the World Health Organization' records for 2012, there were 207 million malaria cases worldwide with 627,000 deaths. Most of these deaths (90%) occurred in sub-Saharan Africa of which 77% were in children younger than 5 years of age, and over 10% of South Africa’s population is living in malaria-epidemic provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal).


However, malaria is very sensitive to climatic variability. Since mosquitoes thrive better in a warm, moist environment, there is a big concern that the projected global warming may make malaria parasites spread over more provinces in South Africa, thereby exposing more populations to malaria epidemics. Insofar as concerns monitoring epidemics, merging health data with environmental and climatic data gathered by observation satellites (data on water, air, vegetation and soil) can be used to identify the conditions likely to cause diseases and to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in the spread of disease.

A good climate-malaria modelling system is thus a central tool for providing early warning on malaria outbreaks and for studying potential impacts of future climate change on malaria - giving decision makers the necessary time to deploy intervention methods to help prevent large scale spread of malaria.


Within the framework of cooperation projects developed on the basis of the working groups and consortiums in which it is involved, CNES gained expertise in tele-epidemiology research projects in South America, as well as in the French Overseas Departments and Territories and Western Africa (Senegal, and Burkina-Faso), setting up epidemic monitoring networks. As the tele-epidemiology concept could also be a lever to address the malaria epidemics in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, a bilateral discussion was engaged between the Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control of the University of Pretoria and the CNES, to explore the potential of a joint research project using remote senisng to help prevent malaria spread.


It is proposed that research activities between the UP CSMC and French partners should firstly focus on the elaboration of malaria predictive risk maps to investigate impacts of climate variability and changes on the occurrence and intensity of malaria epidemics. The work will bring together experts in science and health to investigate the link between climate and vector-borne diseases, gathering scientists from French research institutions (CNES, UMR Espace-Dév-IRD, CIRAD, Laboratoire d’Aérologie of the Midi-Pyrénées Observatory, , etc.), South African partners (SANSA, Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control of the University of Pretoria, South African Department of Health and Malaria Research Unit (MRU), Medical Research Council (MRC), etc.) and other partners from the region (University of Zimbabwe, Pasteur Institute of Madagascar, etc.).


The objective of the conference is to draw together the key players of the project in order to identify partners particularly suitable for the cooperation, define the boundary conditions of the research programme and explore funding opportunities.


Agenda of the Side Event
  • Day 1 (50 attendees)
Opening by the French Ambassador and an executive from University of Pretoria; conferences to present the actors of the projects; general introductions to tele-epidemiology and challenges in malaria research in Africa; cocktail at the French Ambassador residence
  • Day 2 (30 attendees):
Working sessions and round tables to discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the programme; finalisation of the concept note.


Organizers : French Embassy in Pretoria, Service de coopération et d'action culturelle, Pretoria, South Africa; CNES, Earth observation applications, Toulouse, France; CNRS/IRD office, Pretoria, South Africa
Date : from June 29th 8am to June 30th 6pm
Location : University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Expected number of participants : 1-50
Nature of participants : Researchers, scientists, decision and policy-makers
Keywords : Remote sensing, Malaria, International cooperation - South Africa
Keynote speakers :
  • T. De Jager University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • R. Bornman University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • H. Rautenbach University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • J. Botai University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • J. Olwoch SANSA, Pretoria, South Africa
  • A. Sand IRD - UMR Espace-Dev, Saint-Pierre, France
  • M. Mangeas IRD - UMR Espace-Dev, Saint-Pierre, France
  • V. Herbreteau IRD - UMR Espace-Dev, Saint-Pierre, France
  • JP. Lacaux Laboratory of Aerology of the French Observatory of Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France
  • Y. Tourre Columbia University, Palisades, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) , New York, United States of America
  • F. Rakotomanana Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Tananarive, Madagascar
  • F. Girond Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Tananarive, Madagascar
  • I. Gwitira Zimbabwe University, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • C. Vignolles CNES, Toulouse, France
  • J. Albergel CNRS/IRD office, Pretoria, South Africa
  • M. Ludovic CNRS/IRD office, Pretoria, South Africa
  •  J-M. Châtaignier, IRD Managing Director, France

More information

For further information, please contact the French Embassy in Pretoria : science@ambafrance-rsa.org


Read the University of Pretoria’s report on the workshop (here)

Read media coverage (here)

Key messages

  • Malaria is endemic in three provinces in South Africa, namely Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. As the disease is very sensitive to climatic variability, and mosquitoes thrive in a warm, moist environment, it is feared that global warming may enable malaria parasites to spread over more provinces in South Africa and in the process expose more people to the disease;

  • The ReSMaCA project is particularly timely, as the 3rd goal of the Sustainable Development Goals is to “ensure health”, and one of the target is to end the epidemics of aids, tuberculosis, malaria and communicable disease by 2030

  • A trans and interdisciplinary approach is essential to combat and eliminate malaria

  • The collaboration among institutions worldwide is necessary to create and share knowledge to address the problems of our time. The ReSMaCA project will include neighbouring countries - “climate has no boundaries”

Follow-up actions

  • Discussions between members of the steering committee which was created during the workshop, and that gathers all the stakeholders of the research project.

  • Creation of a a ReSMaCA webpage

  • Elaboration of an updated concept note

  • The various partner organisations involved in the proposed programme could take part in the exhibition on climate-related projects that will accompany COP21