SPRINGS will measure the impact of future climate shocks on waterborne diarrheal diseases in order to shape climate, environmental and health policies.
Challenge and risks
Climate change and environmental destruction are already affecting human health, particularly through increased rainfall, flooding, and drought. These changes threaten progress in reducing diarrheal diseases, which are a major cause of death in children under 5, causing 500,000 deaths annually. Diarrheal diseases lead to long-term issues like malnutrition and increased susceptibility to other infections, affecting vulnerable populations worldwide, including in the Global South, Asia, and Europe.
Waterborne diarrheal diseases are particularly climate-sensitive.  Higher temperatures can increase bacterial growth, heavy rains can contaminate water supplies with pathogens, and aging water systems in high-income countries and poor sanitation in low- and middle-income countries worsen the problem. Droughts have multiple impacts, such as reducing access to water, concentrating pathogens in water supplies, and increasing the risk for malnutrition in young children most vulnerable to diarrheal diseases.

Effective responses require understanding how climate hazards affect specific pathogens and better integration of climate and health surveillance systems. Current strategies may not be enough for future climate scenarios, highlighting the need for innovative solutions.

SPRINGS aims to tackle the impact of climate change on diarrheal diseases through a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach, improving surveillance, building climate-resilient water supplies, and systematically assessing innovative interventions to better protect vulnerable populations now and in the future.
About us
The SPRINGS consortium brings together scientists from climate, environment, health, and social sciences to collaborate with communities, public authorities, and policymakers.

Our transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral project focuses on mutual learning and capacity building across continents and diverse socioeconomic settings.

Our main areas of research

By learning from existing climate extremes and their health impacts, SPRINGS aims to improve preparedness and adaptation strategies for future diarrheal threats.

Climate impacts on health

Our project focuses on water quality and quantity, using climate modeling to study climate-health interactions and inform local adaptation. We will improve the understanding and modeling of human-ecological interactions, especially how climate extremes like flooding and drought affect diarrheal pathogens and microbial water quality. This will help us assess waterborne diarrheal disease risks in the past, present, and future.

Integrated surveillance

SPRINGS will establish integrated surveillance systems with climate-sensitive disease indicators, using geographic, climatic, hydrologic, diarrheal, nutritional, demographic, and behavioral data. This will detect emerging diarrheal risks early. Participatory ethnography will involve citizens and stakeholders to improve risk communication and provide insights into their understanding of climate change, water quality, diarrheal risks, and current mitigation and adaptation measures.

Water safety plans

We are exploring opportunities to adapt to climate-driven increases in diarrheal disease by implementing local water safety planning (WSP) across different socioeconomic settings and modeling the impact of adaptation strategies under various climate scenarios. Preparedness will be enhanced through health technology assessments of interventions to reduce climate-associated diarrheal disease risks. This methodology uses a structured process to move from evidence to recommendations and policy decisions.

Robust evidence

We are working with stakeholders and policymakers across sectors, to identify, evaluate, and prioritise evidence-based interventions. We will conduct cost-effectiveness and health impact assessments, integrating these results to help policymakers implement sustainable planetary health policies based on robust evidence.

Discover our 4 case studies

Ghana, Italy, Romania and Tanzania