Monday, March 15, 2010

This is Why UNICEF and NGOs Should Stop Giving People Free Mosquito Nets

Madu Bigmeat: What are you doing?

Gajuma: I am cutting up a mosquito net.

M: I can see that. But why?

G: I am making rope.

M: You can make rope out of old rice bags, you can make rope out of cotton or grass or even old rope. Why - of all things - are you making rope out of a precious mosquito net?

G: This mosquito net was free.

M: Do you have another mosquito net?

G: No.

M: Are you going to buy another mosquito net?

G: Of course not! The doctor gives them to pregnant women for free!

M: Is your wife pregnant?

G: Of course not! She is 70 years old! She is too old to have another child.

M: Then you're never going to get another free mosquito net! Why on Earth are you destoying this one?!?!?!

G: It doesn't matter - my sons have wives. And soon they will have more children. And the doctor will give them another mosquito net.

M: Yeah, that new mosquito net - if they ever get it - would be for the mother and her infant child to protect themselves from malaria. No doctor is ever going to give you a new mosquito net!

G: Yes, but when my sons' daughters get new mosquito nets, they will give them to me because I am an old man.

M: And are you going to sleep under them?

G: No, I will use them to make more rope.


Kevin Frasure said...

great post, great insight and something so many people dont understand. Thanks for sharing

Kevin, pcv belize

Pat and Keri said...

Yes.... a significant metaphor for alot of situations experienced in this field. Thanks!

TAS said...

This may be a prevalent practice in your area and it is certainly something to notice. What I would ask, as a fellow volunteer. . . that you take out the word should from your title. and frame it in a a way that shows how important that local knowledge and education goes along with money and things in aid work...Posts a title like this and this is why we have to fight to be heard. ie..... New York Times article on PCVs just saying

Katherine said...

At the same time, though, isn't that also a question that has as much to do with education as it does economic incentives? I mean, you yourself have tagged the post "ignorance."

pH said...

this would be more compelling if it had to do with how such behaviors fuck up local markets for either rope or misquito nets or if it was really expensive to give out misquito nets. as it is, it just sounds like an anectdote about a particularly selfish guy whose rope building i am happy to inadvertently subsidize.