Designs for dwellings; strategies for managing human-animal contact in Sierra Leone

The interaction between human beings and animals is beneficial but is also characterized with unintended consequences often threatening to humans, animals and their environment (Atlas and Maloy, 2014, Nading, 2013, Brown and Nading, 2019). Across sub-Saharan Africa where human and animal interaction often takes place within and around social and domestic spaces, human relationships with animals are sometimes marked with a host of unwanted contacts. For instance, in many agro-ecological settings in sub-Saharan Africa, people are familiar with animal pests that raid farmlands and ravage crops, and also infiltrate homes where they destroy reserved food grains and property. Rodent pests are identified as a major cause of food loss in farming communities in Africa either through direct consumption or spoilage, which pose significant impact on rural food production and consequently threatens global food security. Furthermore, there is evidence of the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases transmitted into the human population through contact with infected animal hosts, in the case of Lassa haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and the present COVID-19 pandemic that the world is grappling, for example. Because many of the contacts that amplify zoonotic disease take place in domestic settings where people’s livelihoods are also impacted by unwanted contact with animals, and little is known about the ways in which people share their everyday lives with animals, there is a need to extend anthropological approach into exploring the social dimensions of lived spaces, dwelling patterns and local knowledge of how people manage their contact with animals.

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