Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source: Workshop "How do you manage? Unravelling the situated practice of environmental management" (2012)
, nonhuman agency
Disease management in the case of malaria involves the continuous calibration of micro- environments: the habitat of mosquitoes and parasites. Mosquitoes are today mainly tamed through insecticides – be it via indoor residual spraying or through insecticide-treated nets. Insecticides work by killing and/or repelling mosquitoes. However, the repertoire of insecticides that are both effective and toxicologically safe is limited. Nevertheless, insecticide-treated mosquito nets have become fashionable over the last decade: countless charities, UN initiatives and public-private partnerships are dedicated to bring the net to the people. What is often forgotten, however, is that mosquito nets are not only a public health measure and charity item, but also an economic enterprise – rooted in a value chain and tied into monitoring and accountability ef- forts and a tool of environmental management. This paper analyses the management of malaria by looking at mosquito net management: from production, ownership and usage to its effects for Ghanaian mosquito and human environments. In my paper I connect (development economic) processes of mosquito net production and distribution, and link those to the emergence of mosquito (cross-) resistance to insecticides. To paraphrase the words of a Ghanian entomologist: while Africa is being flooded with nets, the mosquito follows a different agenda, evolves its genomic diversity and broadens its biological niche. As a result not only mosquito bodies and environments change, but also malaria as a disease. Looking at humans and mosquitoes as actors of environmental management, I argue that production and monitoring of bednets does not only configure public health and the aid economy in particular ways, but also engages in creating (often unwanted and unintended) environmental and disease realities.