FSPI 2021 – Fonds de solidarité pour les projets innovants – 2021-2022
Wat-Health is an operational research and training project that aims to identify and define the exposure and vulnerability of rural populations to flood-related health risks, in order to anticipate appropriate responses to protection issues. The project also aims to strengthen Cambodian research capacities and existing partnerships, particularly through the provision of methodological tools, equipment and new analytical skills, as well as new interdisciplinary approaches around multiple interrelated themes, namely hydrological dynamics, land use change, bacterial and vector ecology, public health, agricultural practices and health risk modelling.
In Cambodia agricultural production, is essential for the country’s food security. In addition, with the absence of tourists due to the COVID-19 crisis and the withdrawal of Cambodian products from the “Everything But Arms” initiative, the agricultural sector is becoming a strategic sector for both internal and external growth.
Although agricultural production has been steadily increasing in recent years, there is still considerable room for improvement. Indeed, agricultural practices are subject to the hazards and impacts of floods, on human, health and economic levels. Although Cambodia has adopted strategic documents highlighting the three pillars of health, agricultural development and education, as well as a National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (with the support of the United Nations) to develop a policy framework to mitigate the impacts of flooding, understanding how these floods can increase health risks related to agricultural practices is still needed.
This FSPI, by associating scientific research, construction of field data and capacity building, should bring the following results:
The beneficiaries of this project are mainly the Cambodian institutional partners involved in the project, namely the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) and the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC). More broadly, the aim is to provide tools for greater environmental efficiency of agricultural production systems by highlighting the health consequences of the practices. Finally, this project will also benefit national and regional partners involved in a One Health approach, through the contribution of data and indicators collected.
The main objective is to define the exposure and vulnerability of rural populations to the most notable health hazards related to floods. The study is based on the premise that, as in other countries of the region, water-related hazards such as contaminants, bacterial and vector-borne diseases represent a major potential health threat.
Investigations will be conducted at a pilot site in the Mekong Delta, located between Phnom Penh and the border with Vietnam. The overall scientific ambition will be to determine how changes in river flood regimes affect the distribution of pollutants and lead to changes in the biodiversity of water-related pathogens and disease vectors, with ultimate effects on health, agricultural production and the environment.