Knowledge for a sustainable world

At the closing ceremony of the World Technology Summit 24-25 June 2003, it was announced that one of the five finalists in the Environment (Individual) section of the World Technology Awards 2003 was one of NRI's consultant researchers, Dr Glyn Vale, for his lifetime achievements in research and development on tsetse control in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. Dr Vale has long had collaborative links with NRI's vector management scientists, and for the past three years has been working for NRI in Zimbabwe.

Glyn Vale's research achievements have focused especially on the development of improved tsetse-baiting methods. His initial work, starting in the late 1960s, concentrated on improved trapping methods for assessing the attractiveness of baiting techniques for tsetse. In particular, he developed unobtrusive electrocuting grids that could catch the flies efficiently in the absence of humans. The results from these devices showed that traditional hand-net catches were misleading and that mechanical trapping systems used with artificial baits were highly inefficient. The key outcome of research using the electrocuting devices was the realization that odour attraction was far more important in tsetse baiting than had previously been believed.

Since the mid-1970s, Glyn has worked with other researchers in Africa and Europe to improve 100-fold the cost-effectiveness of artificial baiting of tsetse. The fuller recognition of the feasibility of baiting and the importance of the odour attraction of cattle has led to the development of integrated management based on a combination of artificial baits and selective insecticide-dipping of cattle. From the mid-1980s, the economy, low technology and ecological acceptability of bait-based techniques has meant that they have almost entirely replaced other methods of control throughout Africa. The impact of this is illustrated in North-East Zimbabwe where, for the last 15 years, an invasion barrier of baits has avoided the need for annual spraying of DDT over 10,000 square kilometres. This remarkable beneficial environmental impact of the work of Dr Vale and his co-workers has therefore been recognized by the World Technology Network in announcing him as a Finalist in the Environment section of the World Technology Awards.