High ambient air temperatures in Africa pose significant health and behavioral challenges in populations with limited access to cooling adaptations. The built environment can exacerbate heat exposure, making passive home cooling adaptations a potential method for protecting occupants against indoor heat exposure.
We are conducting a 2-year community-based stratified cluster randomized controlled trial (cRCT) implementing sunlight-reflecting roof coatings, known as “cool roofs,” as a climate change adaptation intervention for passive indoor home cooling. Our primary research objective is to investigate the effects of cool roofs on health, indoor climate, economic, and behavioral outcomes in rural Burkina Faso. This cRCT is nested in the Nouna Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS), a population-based dynamic cohort study of all people living in a geographically contiguous area covering 59 villages, 14305 households and 28610 individuals. We recruited 1200 participants, one woman and one man, each in 600 households in 25 villages in the Nouna HDSS. We stratified our sample by (i) village and (ii) two prevalent roof types in this area of Burkina Faso: mud brick and tin. We randomized the same number of people (12) and homes (6) in each stratum 1:1 to receiving vs. not receiving the cool roof. We are collecting outcome data on one primary endpoint – heart rate, (a measure of heat stress) and 22 secondary outcomes encompassing indoor climate parameters, blood pressure, body temperature, heat-related outcomes, blood glucose, sleep, cognition, mental health, health facility utilization, economic and productivity outcomes, mosquito count, life satisfaction, gender-based violence, and food consumption. We followed all participants for 2 years, conducting monthly home visits to collect objective and subjective outcomes. Approximately 12% of participants (n = 152) used smartwatches to continuously measure endpoints including heart rate, sleep and activity.
Our study demonstrates the potential of large-scale cRCTs to evaluate novel climate change adaptation interventions and provide evidence supporting investments in heat resilience in sub-Saharan Africa. By conducting this research, we will contribute to better policies and interventions to help climate-vulnerable populations ward off the detrimental effects of extreme indoor heat on health.