Meant to Keep Malaria Out, Mosquito Nets Are Used to Haul Fish In

Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, January 24, 2015

Out here on the endless swamps, a harsh truth has been passed down from generation to generation: There is no fear but the fear of hunger.

With that always weighing on his mind, Mwewa Ndefi gets up at dawn, just as the first orange rays of sun are beginning to spear through the papyrus reeds, and starts to unclump a mosquito net.

Nets like his are widely considered a magic bullet against malaria–one of the cheapest and most effective ways to stop a disease that kills at least half a million Africans each year. But Mr. Ndefi and countless others are not using their mosquito nets as global health experts have intended.

Nobody in his hut, including his seven children, sleeps under a net at night. Instead, Mr. Ndefi has taken his family’s supply of anti-malaria nets and sewn them together into a gigantic sieve that he uses to drag the bottom of the swamp ponds, sweeping up all sorts of life: baby catfish, banded tilapia, tiny mouthbrooders, orange fish eggs, water bugs and the occasional green frog.

“I know it’s not right,” Mr. Ndefi said, “but without these nets, we wouldn’t eat.”

Across Africa, from the mud flats of Nigeria to the coral reefs off Mozambique, mosquito-net fishing is a growing problem, an unintended consequence of one of the biggest and most celebrated public health campaigns in recent years.

The nets have helped save millions of lives, but scientists worry about the collateral damage: Africa’s fish.

Part of the concern is the scale. Mosquito nets are now a billion-dollar industry, with hundreds of millions of insecticide-treated nets passed out in recent years, and many more on their way.

They arrive by the truckload in poor, waterside communities where people have been trying to scrape by with substandard fishing gear for as long as anyone can remember. All of a sudden, there are light, soft, surprisingly strong nets–for free. Many people said it would be foolish not to use them for fishing.

“The nets go straight out of the bag into the sea,” said Isabel Marques da Silva, a marine biologist at Universidade Lúrio in Mozambique. “That’s why the incidence for malaria here is so high. The people don’t use the mosquito nets for mosquitoes. They use them to fish.”

But the unsparing mesh, with holes smaller than mosquitoes, traps much more life than traditional fishing nets do. Scientists say that could imperil already stressed fish populations, a critical food source for millions of the world’s poorest people.

Scientists are hardly the only ones alarmed. Fistfights are breaking out on the beaches of Madagascar between fishermen who fear that the nets will ruin their livelihoods, and those who say they will starve without them. Congolese officials have snatched and burned the nets, and in August, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, threatened to jail anyone fishing with a mosquito net.


Many of these insecticide-treated nets are dragged through the same lakes and rivers people drink from, raising concerns about toxins. One of the most common insecticides used by the mosquito net industry is permethrin, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency says is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” when consumed orally. The E.P.A. also says permethrin is “highly toxic” to fish.


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  • Truthseeker

    Just leave the African people alone already. We can’t save them from themselves. Let them go through the trial and error process our people went through. It’s the only hope for them.

    • Luca

      Mother nature is endlessly trying to cull the African herd and stupid White people think they can circumvent the inevitable.

      • Zimriel

        Yep. Again, even if we don’t subscribe to the theory that they are ALL stupid and lazy [and I don’t], the race has such a high proportion of the stupid and lazy that they’re going to – literally – poison the well for the rest.

        For more commentary, see Chris Rock’s video that he wishes fervently he never did.

      • Albert

        Next they will declare Mother Nature racist in its discriminative practices against black people. Blame anyone or anything- anything but the blacks themselves.

        • Jesse_from_Sweden

          Mother Nature IS racist… dealt africans a really poor hand when it came to giving out genes that are useful in a society.
          Note, society, you don’t even have to say modern society. Blacks would be a problem even in a medieval society.

    • Anna Tree

      Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie’s wrote:
      “give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.”
      But give a mosquito net to Africans and they will kill all marine life…

      If there is not enough food, why did he do 7 kids?

      • De Doc

        I was thinking along the same line – you beat me to it.

      • Bill Moore

        Hello Anna Tree,

        The Africans do that to prove their manhood.

        They brag about having several children with several different women. All at the same time.

        And the women go along with it.

        Bill Moore

        • Anna Tree

          I think it is originally because of harsher environment and death and so r/K strategy. But how long until it is realized that it is not efficient, moreover necessary nowadays! How behavior is hard-wired…

          • Jesse_from_Sweden

            Or the answer is simply that they don’t have access to contraceptives.

            The best way to cure the problems in Africa might be to develop a sterility pill that works on both males and females, and then distribute lots of them in Africa.
            A single pill taken a single time after you’ve had the number of kids you want.
            Would probably be a hit in the rest of the world as well.

            And if you wanna be real smart and effective about solving the problems in Africa, you make it into a candy and give them out in large numbers everywhere,

            ( -“But what if kids eat it?” -“Well, duh, that’s the intention with making it into candy, stop the problem before it becomes a problem”)

    • Albert

      A very wise comedian once said “you can’t fix stupid.”

      • Kenner

        Ron White.

  • phorning

    Sounds like the story from The Idealist when the recipients of malaria nets were using them on their goats instead of their children.

    • propagandaoftruth

      “But Mr. Ndefi and countless others are not using their mosquito nets as global health experts have intended.”

      And we expect Mr. Ndefi to use a condom for anything other than storing water or anything other than birth control?

  • Maximo Partagas

    Time has proven out, that left to their own devices, negroes will ultimately destroy themselves. Who are we to argue with nature?

    • John Smith

      They’ll take a lot with them before they go.

    • Jesse_from_Sweden

      Unfortunately they don’t destroy themselves. But it is the reason for why they get so many kids, so that you increase the amount “acceptable losses”.

      The real issue is that we are helping them decrease these losses without them decreasing the amount of kids they get.

  • TruthBeTold

    They’re not protecting themselves from mosquitoes and they’re poisoning their food and water.


    • John Smith

      I kinda like the wild beauty of Africa and the wildlife, so it’s too bad when the Africans destroy it.

      • Kenner

        John, check out ‘Africa Image Library’, by photographer Ariadne Van Zandberg. Spectacular!

      • LHathaway

        Intentional or not, your statement makes some kind of a reverse oxymoron or is a paradox or something. Um, if Africans are so bad and destructive, why does this wildlife live no where else?

        • John Smith

          Some does, or did, live elsewhere, like lions and leopards; others live nowhere else and never have, so address that question to the creator. White and Asian people have destroyed a bunch as well, but at least many realize it now and are changing behaviors.

          The relative primitiveness of Africans and the diseases that kept their population in check have been undone by the White man and his technology and what was once a refuge of plentiful wildlife is being undone as negroes spread into once virgin landscapes as their numbers, hunger and greed dictate that they push aside the wildlife, especially the large herbivores and great cats. They now have better means to do so, with automatic weapons and vehicles.

          • LHathaway

            These big game creatures, and all of them, are still there . . . I have to admit, since all the big game creatures really do is eat other creatures, I don’t mind the fact that the West, for the most part, has eliminated them. Since they still do live in Africa, in abundance, it’s difficult to then blame african’s for a lack of respect for wildlife.

          • John Smith

            Not in abundance – hardly any lions left now. 400K in 1950 vs. 20K now and declining more rapidly than ever. Cheetahs even fewer. Elephants have declined from around 4 million in the ’40s to just over a million by 1980, to about half that now. Poaching is at record highs (23K elephants killed in Africa in 2013 alone) and it ain’t white people doing it. In around twenty more years, they’ll be gone and the number of potential poachers is increasing faster than that.

          • LHathaway

            If they would only refuse to accept the white value system . . . they could save themselves from this indecency . . . ? Don’t let yourselves go, Africa.

          • John Smith

            I don’t believe they have any values, which is their problem.

  • Luca

    Once again,may I say, the only humanitarian aid Africa deserves is birth control.

  • Can I say the taboo phrase here?

    Population pressure.

    Can I say the taboo acronym here?


    Blacks hysterically misusing things is nothing new. Quite a few years ago, I read a story out of Philadelphia about a black woman who bought from a drug store some of that “jelly” for the down there portion of her anatomy to prevent STDs. The package said “Jelly,” so she spread it on crackers and ate it, and wouldn’t you know it, she got an STD. She sued the drug store…and won.

    Idiocracy, it’s not for 500 years from now, it’s here now.

    • Rhialto

      IQ is a factor, but another factor is short term thinking. The African brain has not adapted to even consider long term benefits; rather the focus is always on immediate gratification. This is good strategy in primative-tech Africa; bad any high-tech environment.

      • John Smith

        Lower animals have only past, present and short-term future reference frames; I doubt my dog thinks more than 5′-10′ ahead. A chimp might think a few hours to a couple days or so ahead.

    • Holden

      Actually, that was a story from around 1997 about contraceptive jelly, and it was entirely an urban legend. Funny though. There were many variations, even one about a woman who, after learning from the book Gray’s Anatomy that she already had a diaphragm just above her stomach, threw away the diaphragm her gynecologist gave her to prevent pregnancy. She then became pregnant and sued the publishers. Funny, but all untrue.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    I’m laughing. Life is complex and dynamic. Nice try, philanthropists! It’s cute that you think you understand and control so much.

    • Kenner

      You can’t fix stupid.

      • Usually Much Calmer

        Some people learn, some can’t or won’t. It is best for the commonweal if life is very, very harsh for the latter.

        • LHathaway

          I gave you an up vote, but only for the (likely intended) irony and not the sentiment.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            What irony?
            What sentiment?
            Thanks for the upvote.

          • LHathaway

            Well, I took your sentence to possibly be irony because it is often ‘race realist’ whites who are treated harshly and because ‘they can’t learn’. Maybe I was just paranoid to read it like this. Then again, you mean the comment for kenner. So I feel bad for him . . .

          • Usually Much Calmer

            You may be paranoid, Hathaway.

            In the main, I assume that other race realists have arrived at that state the same way I did, through learning. This is, of course, simply projection. Many were raised that way, I discount this.

            But I do think the facility for learning is crucial. Both among African villagers and our progressives. Africans may starve if they do not learn and progressives may be mercilessly shamed socially by a member of their own class (me) if they do not.

            Why on earth would you feel bad for Kenner? I feel great about him.

            Just to mess with you, I am going to upvote your every comment this evening.

          • Kenner

            Someone remind me why I stopped drinking…

          • Usually Much Calmer

            (Because it got old?)

          • Kenner

            Yes, but I ‘edited’ my post– felt it was TMI.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            I’ve done that a few times, too. All good.

  • WR_the_realist

    This problem will not be solved in the obvious way — by stopping the distribution of the mosquito nets and letting the diversity starve and catch malaria.

  • Easyrhino

    I’m reminded of an old Sam Kinison bit where he’s referring to some group of Africans who have no food or fresh drinking water: YOU’RE LIVING IN THE DESERT, MOVE!

    I suppose I can thank my “White Privilege” for telling me that living someplace that’s infested with Malaria is a bad idea.

    • Hell_Is_Like_Newark

      Large portions of the United States were infected with malaria carrying mosquitoes (as well as yellow fever). Mosquito control projects clear back into the 19th century brought the problem under control. Those control projects still go on today.

      • All five of Jefferson Davis’s sons died of malaria. As an example.

        • Easyrhino

          BS! Plus we’re talking about the year 2015, not 150 years ago.

        • John Smith

          At least one died when he fell on his head, IIRC. And, of six children, two were girls.

          • Sick of it

            It’s amazing to consider just how easily a person can die. There was a guy here in town who fell out of a (barely moving) truck, hit his head, and died. Modern medicine doesn’t exactly wow me.

          • Modern medicine is very overrated. They have some impressive feats they can perform, surgery -when it goes well – being one of them. However their whole philosophy in western medicine is wrong. While they admirably focus on anatomy and microbiology they have difficulty fitting the pieces together to deliver a health-promoting product. Most of their cures are poisons, with various side effects from liver damage to mental disorders to death, and more minor ones of course too. Not that natural cures or less processed cures are entirely benign but they are better and they have thousands of years of history in some cases.

            Boswellia – best anti-inflammatory ever, moderately good for lungs too, pretty harmless, way safer than NSAIDS. it’s a COX-2 inhibitor like aspirin and its class of analgesics. Safer on the stomach than aspirin though. Plentiful. Cheap.

            Lomatium – kept an Indian trible influenza-free during an outbreak that killed 30 million worldwide and half a million in the U.S. Outstanding for curing viral infections. Smells like a cross between fenugreek, osha, celery, cayenne, and sweet corn. No known overdoses or issues with it either.

            and the list goes on and on… but the AMA cares for none of it because drug companies can’t make money off their own patented versions when simple powdered herbs, mushrooms or extracts would suffice. The western medical industry is based on profit not on health, on treatment not on cure, on supplementing what is missing rather than restoring the body’s ability to create it on its own.

          • LHathaway

            I think the problem is (because of a belief in progress, or even white supremacy) people don’t think of prevention or avoidance and instead assume modern medicine will be able to cure what goes wrong with them when in fact in many cases all it can do is treat the symptoms for what went wrong.

          • Trauma medicine is impressive. Outside of that, far too much of it is pure quackery. Great post.

          • Julius Caesar

            Very interesting stuff, I wish I knew more about it.

      • Sick of it

        Malaria was wiped out in my home state. Now some foreigner is likely to bring it back….

    • Chasmania

      I remember that skit !
      ” We have deserts here in America, we just don’t F-ing live in ’em !! “

    • I’m sorry he’s gone.

  • Tarczan

    Somebody send this story to Bill Gates. The libs outlawed DDT which actually solved the problem, and Gates came up with this idea, and paid for it.

    • TruthBeTold

      DDT is a lose-lose solution.

      It will increase the population (just expanding endless problems) and it will poison the environment.

      • Kenner

        The first to go would likely be the African Fish Eagle, with many more to follow. It would only benefit the wrong kind of primates.

        • Chasmania

          The problem with DDT wasn’t it’s use for responsible pest control, it was how is was being over used by large commercial farms.

          The big commercial growers applied this stuff essentially using fire hoses and tanker trucks, and at a much higher application rate than was needed, creating huge amounts of run off. which made it’s way into the waterways.

        • John Smith

          Anything that increases negro numbers will have the most devastating effect.

  • I used to think that the relative hesitance that white do-gooders had toward giving black Africa all the malaria nets it wanted was because they secretly wanted to keep the population of black Africa under control, that they sorta knew the time of day.

    Now I think the reason is that they knew the nets would be misused.

  • Kenner

    One of the great myths of cultural equivalency is that primitive cultures occupy the moral high ground because they ‘live in harmony with nature’ when in reality they’re just too lacking in creativity and brains to do otherwise.
    On closer observation, the ‘harmony’ usually turns out to be a myth as well.

    • LHathaway

      The myth is that indian’s live in peace and harmony with horses in North America. The reality is that, yes, horses are native to North America. Natives hunted them to extinction. It took Western man to re-introduce horses to North America for indian’s to live in peace and empathy with, compared to greedy, selfish, western man.

      • Jeff

        The plains indians most emphatically did not live in peace and harmony with their fellow man. The Commanche in particular had some unusual pecadillo’s they would ruthlessly inflict on any unfortunate soul who crossed their path, and white or indian made no difference to them.

    • Luca

      The conundrum is that they are hunter-gatherers and that life style is the antithesis of self sustaining. When their populations prosper, they fight over hunting grounds and cull themselves back to sustainable levels. There can never be progress.

    • It reminds me of early European accounts of Australian aboriginal and Maori cruelty to their children. I won’t repeat the details but suffice to say that noble savages, they were not. Yet we continue to hear lies told about how they were peaceful, kindly people. In reality they behaved worse than animals to their own offspring–and still do, I’m told.

  • The last bit of fishing gear I finished was a five-pointed spear tip. I made that out of 3/4″ i.d. natural gas pipe, with four points and a washer welded into the center with the fifth point sticking out from that. I didn’t use mosquito netting, but dey gots ta be haben dat, gnome sane? We gots ta be haben de gnome sane, gnome sane? I am beginning to hate those gnome-sanes a lot worse than I originally did. We gots ta be haben us some more kids, gnome sane? He gots ta be haben dat food, gnome sane, eben do the US taxpayers are being held up to feed his worthless fambly.

    When, oh when do we get to use the atom bomb?

    • John Smith

      A-bombs will devastate the environment worse than negroes and render it uninhabitable for wildlife or future white colonists. The main problem with Africa has always been Africans.

      • Hiroshima seems OK now.

        • John Smith

          I think fifty years or so is the predicted time frame for recovery afterward – I’m mostly worried about the more valuable species of wildlife besides the infestation of lower primates.

          • Kenner

            The wolves around Chernobyl are still ‘ticking’.

          • John Smith

            I believe the soil is still toxic and there are much higher incidences of mutations in the wildlife, with raptors being some of the worst affected, eating fish from cooling ponds contaminated with the fallout. The fish don’t seem to suffer as much as the other animals and not all creatures seem to be equally vulnerable, either by genetics and/or dosage consumed.

        • LHathaway

          haha i thought you mean to say, bombing hiroshima seems like a good idea, in retrospect. At first, I thought that was what you meant to say.

          • It was the right thing to do at the time. I have been told that a blockade of Japan would have sufficed. Their government had imposed food rationing several years before the Pacific War, and a blockade would have killed mainly children and the elderly in the winter of 1945-46. Hideki Tojo was fat when he was arrested in 1945, so the military junta there clearly wasn’t going hungry.

      • Chasmania

        The amount of damage done to the environment is much overstated. This was something that the KGB infiltrators of the anti-nuke movement liked to play up and have the crowds led to believe.

        I remember reading where a study was taken, asking how many nuclear bombs would “destroy” the US – making it uninhabitable here – if exploded.. The answers varied with the anti-nuke types, but the general feeling, due to radiations lethality, was not much more than 100 or so.

        They were all surprised to learn that many hundreds (350-400 I believe? ) had already been detonated here during weapons testing, and the tests weren’t limited to Nevada or desert regions.

        • John Smith

          However, fallout is not evenly distributed from a single site to the rest of the country. Detonating them in almost every state, possible multiple locations in each would be different. Also, many were small scale, while megaton plus blasts would have different outcomes.

          The entire planet has still been contaminated with radionuclides and is the reason metal for Geiger counters and other radiation sensitive instruments has to be recovered from pre-1945 shipwrecks. FWIW, the US conducted over 1000 nuclear detonations, but only a couple hundred were above ground, about the same as the Soviets.

          • Jeff

            I saw a documentary awhile back concerning atomic tests in the Bikini islands. Divers were swimming around the support footings where towers had been constructed to hold hydrogen warheads. These were weapons in the megaton range. At the time of the test the tower stood on dry land. The blast excavated the area down to 30 feet below sea level. Geiger counters registered no significant radiation. The island itself registered low as well, however the inhabitants that returned had to be removed due to radiation poisoning. Apparently, cesnium isotopes remained in the soil. It was picked up by coconuts from the soil.

        • evilsandmich

          I’d read that a thermonuclear device could be constructed in such a way that nearly all the bomb fuel is consumed in the explosion, resulting in a fairly “clean” nuclear explosion. I’m sure that’s comparatively speaking though.

    • evilsandmich

      That have enough uranium to do his to themselves; but alas a continent of blacks can’t even muster the same brain horsepower as the handful of white South Africans who put some together on the sly (and yes I know of the rumors that they got them from the Jews/Russians/etc.; point still stands; heck even the Pakistanis could scrape together a dirty bomb or two).

  • connorhus

    A perfect example of the flaw in the Multi-Cult thinking and religious dogma. Since they cannot see reality for what it is they can never anticipate the side effects of all the humanitarian and cultural uplifting efforts (paid for with our money). There simply is no action and counter action or cause and effect to them other than one outcome. This is why they always fail.

  • Bossman

    I saw the NY times video. I felt very sorry for the baby fishes. These people want to make babies which they can’t feed. One reason why they did not use the net to cover themselves at night is because they believe that the white man is sending the nets to make them impotent.

    • dd121

      They live in a world of magic and make believe. Like their “plans” to go to the moon.

    • LHathaway

      If it’s toxic for the fish . . .

  • Alexandra1973

    I was reading on Wikipedia where blacks out in/near Indonesia were wearing shorts on their head and using dresses as purses, or something along that line.

    • John Smith

      Ever see the crazy pictures of Liberian (or Sierra Leone) fighters wearing dresses and wigs or life vests while fighting?

      • Kenner

        RuPaul’s Drag War.

    • captainc

      Indonesia is in Asia

  • John Smith

    Another do-gooder effort with unintended negative consequences. This is like ghetto dwellers ripping out their plumbing and wiring to sell for scrap metal value.

  • dd121

    Why exactly is it that I should worry about this?

    • John Smith

      Loss of biodiversity – the only good kind of diversity.

      • Kenner

        ‘Diversity’, with it’s positive connotations in earth’s environment, was the most brilliant weaponizing of a word since ‘equality’.
        Both induce trance-like effects in their victims.

  • If I feared starvation, I’d use the nets too. Then again, if I were a dirt-poor African, I also wouldn’t sire 7 or 8 kids. The greatest long-term threat to the civilized world is black Africans’ out of control birth-rates.

  • John Smith

    I agree that Asian countries are at fault for the demand for endangered wildlife products like ivory and rhino horn. There’s more to the issue than just that, however, as the natives kill animals for space, to protect crops and herd animals, bush meat, and for the thrill of it. I rather believe Western-improved healthcare and agriculture is responsible for the increase in their numbers.