Police in Kaberamaido district is holding eight people for using Anti-malarial mosquito nets for fishing on Lake Kyoga. Kaberamaido District Police Commander Ahmed Madri says the suspects were using the fine-mesh used to protect people from mosquito bites, to instead capture immature fish from the lake.
The nets were distributed by government as part of a drive to distribute up to 24 million mosquito nets countrywide in a bid to reduce malaria prevalence in the country. The preventable disease is the leading cause of death among Ugandans accounting for over 27 percent of lives lost annually, according to 2016 statistics by Malaria Control Programme.
The statistic implies that Uganda has the world’s highest malaria incidence, with a rate of 478 cases per 1,000 deaths per year. Approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Ugandans die every year from Malaria according to a study by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Between 2000 and 2015 major international interventions, including the distribution of mosquito nets resulted in a 42 percent reduction in new malaria cases and a 66 percent fall in malarial mortality. The first net distribution campaign conducted in Uganda in 2013/2014 contributed to a reduction in Malaria prevalence from 42 percent to 19 percent, according to the 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey.
It’s against this background that government launched a new campaign in which one mosquito net will be given per two people in every household across the country. The distribution started in January 2017.
However, instead of using the nets for the intended cause, the fishermen in Kaberamaido have found a totally different use for them. They buy the anti-malaria nets from residents at prices ranging between 3,000 and 5,000 Shillings and redesign them to make fishing gear, albeit short of the acceptable fishing standards.
The District Police Commander Ahmed Madri says the fishermen were found with a sack of fingerlings which they had harvested using the nets and eight treated mosquito nets which had been cut into pieces.
The Suspects, all residents of Murem Landing Site, Okile Parish in Kobulubulu Sub County, will be charged with sabotaging government programs and using prohibited illegal fishing gear, according to Madri. They include Moses Edingu, Nathan Eyamu, Moses Echodu, Richard Obongi, Charles Edonga, Joseph Erabu, Simon Peter Esebu and Peter Eiga.
Last week, police in Kaberamaido district burnt about 10 treated mosquito nets recovered from fishermen on Lake Kyoga.
Fishing with mosquito nets is widely considered to be environmentally destructive and a threat to both fish stocks and water bodies. In other parts of the country, people have been found using mosquito nets in pest protection for plants, football goals and as wedding veils.