Open Access Research article

Community-based surveillance of malaria vector larval habitats: a baseline study in urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Michael J Vanek1, Bryson Shoo2, Deo Mtasiwa2, Michael Kiama2, Steven W Lindsay3, Ulrike Fillinger3, Khadija Kannady2, Marcel Tanner1 and Gerry F Killeen134*

Author Affiliations

1 Swiss Tropical Institute, P.O. Box, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

2 Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

3 School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK

4 Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre, P.O. Box 53, Ifakara, Kilombero, Morogoro, United Republic of Tanzania

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-154

Published: 15 June 2006



As the population of Africa rapidly urbanizes it may be possible to protect large populations from malaria by controlling aquatic stages of mosquitoes. Here we present a baseline evaluation of the ability of community members to detect mosquito larval habitats with minimal training and supervision in the first weeks of an operational urban malaria control program.


The Urban Malaria Control Programme of Dar es Salaam recruited and provided preliminary training to teams of Community-Owned Resource Persons (CORPs) who performed weekly surveys of mosquito breeding sites. Two trained mosquito biologists accompanied each of these teams for one week and evaluated the sensitivity of this system for detecting potential Anopheles habitats.


Overall, 42.4% of 986 habitats surveyed by an inspection team had previously been identified by CORPs. Agricultural habitats were detected less often than other habitats (30.8% detected, Odds Ratio [95%CI] = 0.46 [0.29–0.73], P = 0.001). Non-agricultural artificial habitats were less suitable than other habitats (29.3% occupancy, OR = 0.69 [0.46–1.03], P = 0.066) but still constituted 45% (169/289) of occupied habitats because of their abundance (51 % of all habitats).


The levels of coverage achieved by modestly trained and supported CORPs at the start of the Dar es Salaam UMCP were insufficient to enable effective suppression of malaria transmission through larval control. Further operational research is required to develop surveillance systems that are practical, affordable, effective and acceptable so that community-based integrated vector management can be implemented in cities across Africa.