Schistosomiasis, agriculture and migration in Africa: a joint economic and ecological analysis

What are the complex relationships between Schistosomiasis, agricultural production, and migration in an African context?


Schistosomiasis, bilharzia, or ‘snail fever’ is a chronic disease caused by flatworms native to sub-Saharan Africa. Transmitted through fresh water during daily activities, the disease has impairing impacts on people’s health, i.e. people do not necessarily die from it, but their quality of life is severely reduced. In 2016, 206 million people worldwide were suffering from Schistosomiasis.

As infected people are often too weak to work, the disease directly impacts the economic development of affected countries. Therefore the main objective of this project is to identify the impact of schistosomiasis on economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. In the process, the project will create economic indicators using agriculture and migration to explain the dynamics of the disease.

The main research questions to be addressed are:

– What is the impact of schistosomiasis on agricultural production?

– What is the place of schistosomiasis in the optimal resource allocation of farmers?

– What is the impact that the development of water resources and human mobility have on spreading the disease?

The research methodology combines several axes: an empirical study on the impact of schistosomiasis on agricultural production; the development of a unitary dataset linking the characteristics of agricultural production to the variables characteristic to the evolution of schistosomiasis; the use of machine learning to select the model which best captures the link between the disease, agricultural development and migration. 


  • Migration
  • Rural development
  • Coffee
  • Quality
  • Smallholder Empowerment
  • Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Policy decision support


  • Ecology
  • Public Health
  • Econometry
  • Economics
  • Migration Studies


International Organisations

  • Departement of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the WHO

NGOs, States or other institutions

  • BEST – i3E
  • The Global Coffee Platform

Relevant Countries

  • Burkina Faso


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2018. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Jean-Louis Arcand
Graduate Institute, Geneva

Theophile Mande
Principal Member
Best – i3E, Ouagadougou

Javier Perez-Saez
Principal Member
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale, Lausanne

Daniele Rinaldo
Graduate Institute, Geneva

Penelope Vounatsou
Principal Member
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel