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Analysing Environmental Risks and Perceptions of Risks to Assess Health and Well-being in Poor Areas of Abidjan

Authors: Kouassi Dongo, Christian Zurbrügg, Gueladio Cissé1, Brigit Obrist, Marcel Tanner, Jean Biémi


This study analyzed environmental health risks and people-s perceptions of risks related to waste management in poor settlements of Abidjan, to develop integrated solutions for health and well-being improvement. The trans-disciplinary approach used relied on remote sensing, a geographic information system (GIS), qualitative and quantitative methods such as interviews and a household survey (n=1800). Mitigating strategies were then developed using an integrated participatory stakeholder workshop. Waste management deficiencies resulting in lack of drainage and uncontrolled solid and liquid waste disposal in the poor settlements lead to severe environmental health risks. Health problems were caused by direct handling of waste, as well as through broader exposure of the population. People in poor settlements had little awareness of health risks related to waste management in their community and a general lack of knowledge pertaining to sanitation systems. This unfortunate combination was the key determinant affecting the health and vulnerability. For example, an increased prevalence of malaria (47.1%) and diarrhoea (19.2%) was observed in the rainy season when compared to the dry season (32.3% and 14.3%). Concerted and adapted solutions that suited all the stakeholders concerned were developed in a participatory workshop to allow for improvement of health and well-being.

Keywords: Abidjan, environmental health risks, informalsettlements, vulnerability, waste management.

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