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Can participatory approaches strengthen the monitoring of cyanobacterial blooms in developing countries? Results from a pilot study conducted in the Lagoon Aghien (Ivory Coast)

Abstract : Monitoring of cyanobacteria in freshwater ecosystems is a complex task, which is time consuming and expensive due to the chaotic population dynamics and highly heterogeneous distribution of cyanobacteria populations in water bodies. The financial cost constitutes a strong limitation for the implementation of long-term monitoring programs in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The work presented here was performed in the framework of an international project addressing the sustainable monitoring and management of surface water resources used for the production of drinking water in three African countries. We tested the potential of a citizen approach for monitoring cyanobacterial blooms, which are a growing threat to the drinking water supply. This pilot study was designed, implemented and evaluated in close interaction with the Pasteur Institute of the Ivory Coast and with the populations of three villages located on the shoreline of a freshwater lagoon located near Abidjan city. Based on the use of a smartphone application, the citizens of the three villages were invited to report water color changes, as these changes could reflect cyanobacteria proliferations. A two-year experimentation period has shown that it is possible to mobilize the local populations to monitor cyanobacterial blooms. The data collected by citizens were consistent with the data obtained by a classical monitoring of cyanobacteria performed over seven months, but it appeared that new approaches were needed to validate the citizen data. This participatory approach also provided great improvements to the understanding and awareness of local populations regarding water quality and cyanobacterial bloom issues. Finally, we discuss some of the difficulties and limitations of our participatory monitoring approach that should be considered by further implementations. Despite these difficulties, our work suggests that citizen monitoring is a promising approach that may complement the classical approach to sustainable monitoring of cyanobacteria in developing countries.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 25, 2020 - 5:32:32 PM
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Veronica Mitroi, Kouadio Chrislain Ahi, Pierre-Yves Bulot, Fulbert Tra, José -Frédéric Deroubaix, et al.. Can participatory approaches strengthen the monitoring of cyanobacterial blooms in developing countries? Results from a pilot study conducted in the Lagoon Aghien (Ivory Coast). PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2020, 15 (9), pp.e0238832. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0238832⟩. ⟨mnhn-02949591⟩

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