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Research: A formative study of disposal and re-use of old mosquito nets by communities in Malindi, Kenya

June 29, 2015 - 12:58 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Lydiah W. Kibe, Anne W. Kamau, John K. Gachigi, Annette Habluetzel, Charles M. Mbogo
MWJ2015, 6, 9
Article type: 
About 30 million insecticide treated bednets have been distributed in Kenya since 2001 and ownership is approaching full coverage. As a consequence of this achievement, Kenya is faced with the challenge of disposing old nets that are no longer in use. The study aimed at investigating ways of disposal and re-use of old and torn nets by end users. A formative study was conducted in the former Malindi District in Coastal Kenya. A total of 6 Focus Group Discussions, 10 Key Informant Interviews and 9 transect walks/drives were undertaken. There were variations in disposal and re-use of old nets between urban and rural or peri-urban residents. In all settings, people adopted innovative and beneficial ways of re-using old, expired nets, and those that were damaged beyond repair. Common causes of damage were fire, children, domestic animals sharing the sleeping room and friction from the bed poles while hanging or tacking it in under a sleeping mat. Re-use was most prominent in farming activities (78%) and less to for use in mosquito control, like window screening (15%). The remaining 8% was related to making ropes, swings, footballs, goal posts and fishing nets. Advantageous texture and nature of the netting material, perceived economic benefit and lack of guidelines for disposal were the main reasons cited by residents for re-using old nets. It is important that re-use and disposal of old nets is distinguished from misuse of newly distributed nets. Alternative uses of old nets as opposed to misuse of new nets was found to be common in our study.


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Clive Shiff's picture
Submitted by Clive Shiff on
This is such an important paper, Congratulations to Charles and his team. I have asked this question of numerous "donors" and purveyors of nets, even close colleagues here in the US, the result is a blank stare! There has been minimal thought given to this problem which is what you get when ex-pats abound and donors control the decision making. It behoves local scientists to resolve this and this team is doing so. It is wrong to distribute nets continuously without putting thought to this issue

Clive Shiff