African fishermen take mosquito nets to the water

Development work is complicated. Ask anyone with experience in it. Take, for example, this New York Times story about African fishers taking their bed nets to the waterways. These nets, distributed by the millions in efforts to prevent malaria, were intended to keep families safe from nighttime mosquito bites. But villagers, driven by hunger, have found the nets to be highly effective—and cheap—alternatives to fishing nets. This, in turn, has raised concerns about the toxicity of the nets (they’re treated with insecticides) and the effects of dragging them through communal waters. Scientists also worry about the catch: tightly woven mosquito nets capture more and smaller aquatic creatures than traditional fishing nets do. All of this is prime example of the unintended consequences that unfortunately plague so many development projects worldwide.