Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, October 12 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Third Floor, Research Hall

Title: Agent-based Modeling for Humanitarian Issues: Disease and Refugee Camps

Atesmachew Hailegiorgis
CSS PhD Candidate
George Mason University

Abstract: The displacement of people in times of crises represents a challenge for humanitarian agencies. This challenge is especially acute within developing countries, which houses the majority of displaced people. In this presentation, I will demonstrate a spatially explicit agent based model that explores the spread of cholera in the Dadaab refugee camps. Poor sanitation and housing conditions contribute to frequent incidents of cholera outbreaks. The spread of cholera is modeled by explicitly representing the interaction between humans (host) and their environment. The dynamics of the epidemic is represented using Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered (SEIR) model. Elevation surface data combined with rainfall is utilized to carry pollutants (disposal and feces). Agents in the model are modeled as mobile and purposeful oriented individuals engaging in daily activities all of whom are susceptible to diseases. Infected agents spread cholera bacteria through excretion of feces to the environment and this can then be spread throughout the system. Results from the model show that the spread of cholera grows radically from contaminated water sources. Agents’ social behavior and movements contribute to the spread of cholera to other camps where water sources were relatively safe. This modeling effort highlights the potential of agent based modeling to explore the spread of cholera in a humanitarian context and its impact on service provision.