Precious AKAMPUMUZA, PhD Student in Sustainability Science (29, Uganda)

Precious AKAMPUMUZA

The impact of climate change on health has, until recently, been largely overlooked. A dearth of research is especially apparent in the world’s most vulnerable areas, such as East Africa. Precious Akampumuza intends to address this imbalance by investigating the association between climate change and infectious diseases in Uganda.

TOKYO UNIVERSITY, JAPAN

Research focus: the effect of climate change on incidences of infectious diseases in Eastern Africa

Temperature increases, rising sea levels, sporadic and unpredictable rains, among other manifestations of climate change, are likely to affect all sectors, from agriculture, to transport and energy. Until recently, the impact on health has been largely overlooked. Even now, given the lack of data and its recent emergence as a policy issue, research on the impact of climate change on health has been focused on the developed world. This means the world’s most vulnerable regions, such as East Africa, have been disregarded. Precious’s research aims to address this imbalance. By analysing the association between extreme rainfall and temperature and the number of outpatient visits due to diarrheal diseases in Uganda, Precious will be among the first scientists to analyse the association between climate change and infectious diseases in Uganda. She is particularly keen to use the mentoring opportunities of the Green Talents Award to support her aim.

Precious is stretching the limit of data availability in Uganda by leveraging smartphone technology to digitize hospital and meteorological archives. From this, she has created a unique database, to analyse diarrheal diseases in one of Uganda’s most vulnerable sub-regions.

The jury recognised a great deal of value in Precious’ research, especially given the potential benefit it can provide for decision-makers in her home country. Uganda has not yet taken actions to build institutional and technical capacities to work on climate change, and the health impact of climate change is largely unknown within the country. Precious therefore intends to use her investigation to inform policy, and advocate for the incorporation of climate change in development planning.