Every year, an estimated 180,000 people die from the mosquito-carried malaria virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet a preventative government initiative to hand out mosquito nets has backfired, with people using the nets as garden fences.
A FRANCE 24 Observer in the eastern city of Goma recounted how insecticide-treated bed nets are increasingly being used to fence off gardens and hung up to protect fruit trees from insects.
This situation is not isolated to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but is also practiced in other malaria-blighted African countries such as in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, where mosquito nets have reportedly been used for making fishing nets, wedding gowns, house decorations and poultry enclosures.
“I don’t even think they care that others may catch malaria because they don’t have any nets,” says Charly Kasereka, a Goma-based journalist who works for a local radio station.
In at least 10 of the 18 neighbourhoods in the city, people misuse mosquito nets in this way. It’s a common sight outside of Goma too, he says.
The nets are being distributed by health centres that have been set up as part of the National Programme for the Struggle against Malaria (PNLP) which calculate the number of nets depending on the size of the household. A family of five, for example, will have the right to two bed nets.