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Evidence for policy action on climate change and health

African ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate change, with implications for health. This project will build evidence for a Planetary Health approach to policy making in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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This project, initially focused on Kenya, aims to establish linkages between climate change and health impacts in sub-Saharan Africa through a Planetary Health approach. We aim to build the evidence base, strengthen capacity, and support evidence-informed policy development. We are an interdisciplinary project team comprising a partnership of epidemiologists and policy analysts based in London and Nairobi.


Our research priorities are aimed at developing and testing policy options that have the potential to deliver generalizable and transferable lessons for improving the local environment, global environmental sustainability and population health. We will undertake this through policy evaluation, evidence synthesis and quantitative analysis, and regional and national capacity building.

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Project Rationale

African ecosystems are already being affected by climate change, and future impacts are expected to be substantial. The IPCC Special report on climate change in Africa (2018) showed that ecosystems and species ranges (including pests and diseases) are already shifting, and climate change is also increasing stress on water availability, affecting agriculture, livelihoods, and human health.

The IPCC (2018) showed that climate is multiplying existing health vulnerabilities in Africa, including insufficient access to safe water and improved sanitation, food insecurity, and limited access to health care and education. Evidence is growing that highland areas could experience increased malaria epidemics due to climate change. The frequency of leishmaniasis epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa is changing, with spatial spread to peri-urban areas and to adjacent geographic regions, with possible contributions from changing rainfall patterns. Climate change is projected to increase the burden of malnutrition with the highest toll expected in children.

The type and magnitude of the health impacts of climate change will vary significantly among communities and regions. Variations are due to such factors as geographic and micro-climate differences, socio-economic conditions, the quality of existing health infrastructure, communication capacity, and underlying epidemiology. There is a lack of ground-truthed, meaningful country level data in SSA that is granular enough to inform effective policy action.

We need new approaches to health policy to respond to climate risks. In some cases, doing more of the same may be appropriate (e.g. using mosquito nets and other measures to prevent malaria). In other cases, completely different, innovative approaches to health care may be needed which require a deep understanding of the drivers, impacts and structural responses associated with climate change.

Climate policies are also highly relevant to health outcomes. For example, “low emission” transport and urban policies have both climate and health benefits. Policies promoting low carbon agriculture have both direct health benefits through lower pesticide use and also indirect benefits where they improve local food security and livelihoods.

Effective health and climate policy that addresses these interactions requires understanding of Planetary Health.” ‘Planetary Health’ was coined in 2013 by the Rockefeller Foundation and is defined as the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends. It encompasses how environmental changes are affecting human health, identifying effective solutions to support those most at risk, and proposals for ways to live on our planet more sustainably.

This project will build the evidence base for a Planetary Health approach to policy making in Sub Saharan Africa.

We will:

  1. Help fill the evidence gap around ground-truthed interactions between climate change and health in Africa
  2. Generate a greater understanding of cross sectoral policy solutions that address the health impacts of climate change that also have climate co-benefits, capitalising on “win-win” opportunities
  3. Build bridges between the health and climate research and policy communities in Africa around shared evidence and policy goals.
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A partnership between the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health (CCCPH) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Health, and the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) will bring together recognised expertise in the links between climate change and health and a deep understanding of the policy landscape and relevant principle stakeholders in Kenya.  We hope to achieve a large multiplier effect from our work by generating evidence from novel analysis and research syntheses to support country-led bids to major climate funds (including the Green Climate Fund).  We also seek to leverage policy opportunities such as the existing government commitments to related SDG and NDC targets in response to decisions adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Research and engagement foci will be shaped by locally identified country needs.

Work Packages

All engagements will be aimed at developing and testing policy options that have the potential to deliver generalizable and transferable lessons for improving the local environment, global environmental sustainability and population health.

The project will include three linked work packages:

National (Kenya) and regional policy review and analysis

A detailed mapping of relevant national policies and commitments to climate change action, together with in-depth stakeholder engagement, political-economy and policy analysis to identify and define opportunities for national policy actions to protect and support public health in the face of climate change.

Data analysis and evidence synthesis

The in-depth analysis and collation of the available in-country evidence in Kenya on the links between current and projected environmental change and health outcomes to produce high quality research briefs and other outputs to guide and support policy action.

National and international engagement and capacity strengthening

This will involve institutional partnership, cross-learnings, expanding the cadre of diverse stakeholders engaged in climate change and health research and policy, and broadening access to relevant information and education. A major focus of this work package will be to strengthen capacity within the two partner organisations and ensure the appropriate transfer of skills between CCCPH and AFIDEP.

Project team
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Profiles List
Dr Ariel Anna Brunn

Ariel Anna

Research Fellow in Planetary Health
Principal Investigator
Dr Iris Blom


Research Student - MPhil/PhD - Epidemiology & Population Health
Miss Jessica Gerard


Research Assistant
Dr Robert Hughes


Clinical Research Fellow
Dr James Milner


Associate Professsor

Leyla Abdullahi

Senior Research and Policy Analyst

Titus Kibara

Research and Policy Associate

Bernard Onyango

Senior Research and Policy Analyst / AFIDEP team lead
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Opening Presentation “Climate Change and Planetary Health: Impacts, imperatives, achieving needed actions in Kenya”, Ministry of Health Technical Working Group on Climate Change and Health Strategy Workshop

Feb 14th – 16th 2022, Naivasha, Kenya.

Policy Engagement and Evidence Uptake Training For Climate Change And Health Experts” Ministry of Health Capacity Building Workshop

April 19th – 21st, 2022, Naivasha, Kenya.