Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) has been awarded a significant grant of $3,163,402 from the Wellcome Trust for a pioneering project which aims to shed light on the often-overlooked impact of extreme weather events on mental health.

Titled ‘The impact of extreme weather events on the mental health of vulnerable populations in Africa’, the project will explore how the increasing number and severity of flooding negatively affects resource-poor settings and aggravates existing health challenges. The project will be implemented in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa.

“Our goal is to make visible the direct impact of extreme weather events on the development of common mental disorders among vulnerable populations,” said Professor Collins Iwuji, a member of AHRI faculty and the study lead.

The project brings together a transdisciplinary team comprising community members, climate scientists, psychiatrists, epidemiologists, statisticians, data scientists, social scientists, decision-makers, civil society activists, public engagement professionals, and media experts.

The research will use both existing and new data sources to generate evidence to catalyse a shift in policy that recognises the need for adaptation strategies to be integrated with community mental health care to promote good health and wellbeing among at-risk populations displaced by extreme weather events.

“The project will actively engage communities, civil society, and the media to amplify its findings through advocacy and strategic communication activities,” added Prof Iwuji. “The ultimate objective is to drive urgent policy changes at scale and foster a comprehensive approach to mental health care in the face of climate change.”

Top image: Study lead and AHRI faculty member, Prof Collins Iwuji