In these weeks most Tanzanian mothers receive mosquito nets meant to protect their children from Malaria. Such a ritual is repeated every year in every poor country, at the height of the rainy season when Malaria claims the majority of its half a million children lives.
The distribution of mosquito nets, for free or at highly subsidized price, is one of the most advertised ‘Third World Aids’, and supposed to carry one highest benefit-cost ratio.
A good share of these nets is used by mothers to fish wherever possible (beaches, lagoons, lakes, ponds), with the only exception of the rivers populated by crocodiles and hippos.
The mothers’ catch significantly contributes to their family diet and budget, with fairly thriving local markets typically reserved to women (male fishermen disdain working for such minute preys)…
At best, a woman succeeds to procure more than a mosquito net, in order to fish and also protect her children from Malaria. In such fortunate cases, the good net is used for fishing, and the torn one is left to ‘protect’ children.
Here are just a few side effects:
– Pyrethrum (which impregnates the nets and is expected to persist for months) dissolves at the first fishing;
– the mosquito nets hoard fries, larvae, embryonic forms, undercutting the food chain at its foundations;
– professional fishermen (all male) meet an inexorable decline of adult preys: rare example of ‘equal opportunities’ on the contrary?…
– the effectiveness of mosquito nets in preventing Malaria mostly rests on official reports;
– the use of antimalarial drugs remains disproportionately high, with development of resistances more and more difficult to control at global level;
– the ‘aid industry’ thrives over such bottomless pits, and all agencies, from international ones to small NGOs, proceed with unwavering faith in their salvific mission;
– poverty and ignorance remain endemic, indeed suck ever wider layers of population, in a perverse mechanism designed to ensure that 1% hoards as much wealth as the remaining 99% (6.9 billion people, including you and me);
– the awareness of 7 billion people remains mesmerized by the mainstream media displaying persuasive images of plump babies, sleeping under the blessing and glittering shield of a mosquito net… making believe that Malaria causes poverty, not viceversa!