What do people benefit from a citizen science programme? Evidence from a Rwandan citizen science programme on malaria control

Domina Asingizwe*, Marijn P. Poortvliet, Arnold J.H. van Vliet, Constantianus J.M. Koenraadt, Chantal M. Ingabire, Leon Mutesa, Cees Leeuwis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malaria control remains a challenge globally and in malaria-endemic countries in particular. In Rwanda, a citizen science programme has been set up to improve malaria control. Citizens are involved in collecting mosquito species and reporting mosquito nuisance. This study assessed what people benefit from such a citizen science programme. The analysis was conducted on how the citizen science programme influenced perceptions and behaviour related to malaria control. METHODS: This study employed a mixed-methods approach using dissemination workshops, a survey, and village meetings as the main data collection methods. Dissemination workshops and village meetings involved 112 volunteers of the citizen science programme and were conducted to explore: (1) the benefits of being involved in the programme and (2) different ways used to share malaria-related information to non-volunteers. The survey involved 328 people (110 volunteers and 218 non-volunteers) and was used to compare differences in malaria-related perceptions and behaviour over time (between 2017 and 2019), as well as between volunteers and non-volunteers. RESULTS: Malaria-related perceptions and behaviour changed significantly over time (between 2017 and 2019) and became favourable to malaria control. When the findings were compared between volunteers and non-volunteers, for perceptions, only perceived self-efficacy showed a significant difference between these two groups. However, volunteers showed significantly more social interaction, participation in malaria-related activities at the community level, and indoor residual spraying (IRS) acceptance. In addition, both volunteers and non-volunteers reported to have gained knowledge and skills about the use of malaria control measures in general, and mosquito species in particular among volunteers. CONCLUSION: The reported knowledge and skills gained among non-volunteers indicate a diffusion of the citizen science programme-related information in the community. Thus, the citizen science programme has the potential to provide individual and collective benefits to volunteers and society at large.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalMalaria Journal
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Behaviour change
  • Benefits
  • Citizen science
  • Collective action
  • Diffusion
  • Malaria
  • Perceptions
  • Social interaction

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