International short term Bilharzia expert/aquatic ecologist

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation

, , RW

ob Description

Special IWRM Study: Bilharzia / Schistosomiasis – vector snail prevalence and control in Lake Muhazi


To assess the opportunities for reduction of health issues caused by Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) in the human populations around Lake Muhazi, by reduction of vector snails prevalence in Lake Muhazi and nearby water bodies, through ecosystem interventions.


International short term Bilharzia expert / aquatic ecologist


The specialist to be hired for this study is required to hold a Master’s level academic degree in aquatic ecology, hydrobiology, or comparable, preferably in vector biology of schistosomiasis, with knowledge of vector snail populations in the region, and have relevant experience in the fields of this ToR. Experience will comprise freshwater snails, their habitats and ecosystem relationships, and ecosystem interventions.


max 25 working days

Mission planning:

First mission October 2016 (ca. 10 days), second mission to be determined.

About the Organization

Relevant Background

The IWRM Programme, funded by the Government of The Netherlands through the Royal Netherlands’ Embassy in Kigali, supports the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) of the Ministry of Natural Resources in order to enhance capacities at national, catchment, and local (District) level with regard to catchment management and IWRM. The IWRM programme is supported by the IWRM Support Unit (ISU), a consortium of consultants working with the IWRM Department on a daily basis. In the framework of the programme, several studies will be implemented, to support the IWRM Department in particular, and the Government of Rwanda at large, in managing specific IWRM issues, or to support the development of catchment plans for the demonstration catchments of the programme.

This specific IWRM study focuses on assessing the prevalence and options for control of Schistosomiasis (also called Bilharzia) around Lake Muhazi. The international aquatic ecologist will collaborate closely with the national team of epidemiologist / endemic diseases, to be hired by the programme from the University of Rwanda. The international expert will work under the guidance of the W4GR team leader for this study. Focus of the aquatic ecologist will be on assessing the options for reducing the prevalence of Schistosomiasis around Lake Muhazi, by assessing existing data and analyses regarding the vector snails within the lake itself, in water bodies surrounding the lake, and the ecosystems and habitats they live in.


The hydrological system of Rwanda is sub-divided into two major basins (Nile basin covering 67% of the country’s territory and Congo basin covering 33%) and nine level one catchments. Lake Muhazi is part of the Nyabugogo catchment, which in turn is part of the encompassing Nile Nyabarongo lower catchment. The image underneath provides an overview of Lake, its coordinates, the surrounding villages, and nearby Kigali.

Rationale for the study

The prevalence of vector snails in Lake Muhazi causes health issues in the neighbouring human populations. Government interventions, led by the Ministry of Health launched in 2008, included Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in a 6 year strategic plan to control schistosomiasis prevalence to below 10% of the national population. The MDA campaigns focused on the country’s 16 most endemic districts, two of which (Gicumbi and Rwamagana) adjacent to Lake Muhazi.

Despite these efforts, an increase in prevalence of schistosomiasis was reported in 2013 by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre in some districts associated with water resources development. The trend is in conformity with experience from other tropical countries, which shows a proliferation of schistosomiasis when water development schemes, including hydroelectricity generation, irrigation, and fisheries, do not include schistosoma control strategies.

So far a Steering Committee to deal with this issue has been established (2015, chaired by REMA), MiniSante implemented a Nationwide Schistosomiasis study (2013), and a test has been done with the introduction of fish predating on vectors in lake Muhazi.

By reducing prevalence of the snails that act as a vector for Schistosomiasis in humans, health issues may be reduced, and tourism opportunities around the Lake can be expanded.

Study objective

This study will explore the causes and prevalence of Schistosomiasis vectors in Lake Muhazi and surrounding water bodies of different kinds, seeking to protect public health from Schistosomiasis infection by reducing the transmission of Schistomiasis by one or a combination of the following measures:

  • Effective detection and treatment of cases of schistosomiasis in primary health care centres;
  • Water supply and sanitation measures to (i) reduce the need for people to be in contact with infested open water and reduce the amount of Schistosoma eggs ending up in the environment (latrines);
  • Reduction of vector snail populations through habitat management or other snail control measures.
  • Public information to change human behaviour (reduce unsafe water contacts; use of latrines; recognise signs of infection and get treatment).

This study has as specific objective to provide recommendations for the control of Schistosomiasis vectors in Lake Muhazi and surrounding water bodies, through ecosystem interventions such as habitat interventions and/or predator-based interventions.

Scope of Work

The main activities to be undertaken within the framework of this special IWRM study are as follows:

    1. Development of concise inception report;
  • Baseline study on vector snails including ecological quick scan of the lake (including field visit) and selected surrounding water bodies, and tests in a laboratory if required.
  • Assessment of the available documentation from University of Rwanda, RNRA, MINISANTE and the predator fish test from MINAGRI (PAIGELAC project; coordinator tel. nr. 0788306364);
  • Study of other available documentation, such as the paper on Control of Schistosomiasis in Rwanda and relevant scientific publications;
  • Discuss with relevant stakeholders (e.g. government and knowledge institutes) and with the epidemiologist of the schistosomiasis epidemiological team);
  • Develop a long list of potential measures in close cooperation with the UoR team and the study team leader from W4GR (in the first mission);
  • Assess (in the first mission) the preliminary expected effectiveness and viability of the most promising (short listed) measures, based on literature and discussions with ISU and IWRMD staff and other relevant stakeholders, taking into account the preliminary findings and results of a separate study into the long term water management options for Lake Muhazi ;
  • Develop conclusions and recommendations on potential interventions and plan the contents of the second mission under guidance of the study team leader;

Provide (in the second mission) a conceptual approach and detailed programme of measures for the reduction or eradication of schistosomiasis around Lake Muhazi, or minimally the local eradication of vector snails at sites where many people are in contact with water, including (if deemed feasible), a reduction of endemic schistosoma intermediate hosts in and around Lake Muhazi, taking into account the possibility of future changes in the management of Lake Muhazi (e.g. if the lake is turned into a multi-purpose reservoir with actively controlled water level fluctuations).

Interactions with team members

The international expert will collaborate closely with the IWRM Department staff, the IWRM Support Unit (ISU) core team, and with other RNRA or project experts as and when needed. In particular, the International expert will collaborate closely with the UoR team (epidemiological study/survey focussing at the terrestrial and anthropogenic aspects of the disease) and will work under the guidance of the study team leader. Furthermore, he or she will collaborate with the Steering Committee on Bilharzia, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Ministry of Health (MoH), RNRA staff, the ISU core team, and with other RNRA or project experts as and when needed. GIS support will be provided by the ISU core team.

Data sources

RNRA experts will assist the expert with all relevant existing information and contact persons from MINIRENA and other ministries or organisations for the current assignment.

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How to Apply

Please apply by uploading your CV and letter and clicking on the Apply Now button before 13 November 2016.

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NB: Only shortlisted will be contacted