Scores of drought-hit villagers in Manama area in Gwanda South have resorted to using insecticide treated mosquito nets donated by the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) to fight malaria to trap fish for relish along Tuli River as starvation takes toll in the southern region.
Poor rains that resulted in most crops wilting have left thousands of villagers in Matabeleland South in need of urgent food aid but with nothing forthcoming they have resorted to unorthodox means for survival.
Unicef has over the years donated millions of treated mosquito nets across Africa to fight malaria but villagers in Manama area were malaria cases are relatively low are using the nets to trap fish for food.
Radiovop caught up with villagers who included children along Tuli River in Mapate area who were using mosquito nets to ambush fish.
“Because of the drought situation we are forced to come and entrap fish using these mosquito nets, we know they are meant to fight malaria but the mosquitoes here do not cause malaria.We are not allowed to do this but that’s the only way we can survive in this drought situation,” said a young lady who only identified herself as MaNdlovu.
Mapate Ward 16 headman Nyakallo Makhurane said villagers in his area were facing starvation but warned they risk being arrested if they are caught using nets to trap fish.
“I have received reports of people using mosquito nets to trap fish along Tuli but so far no-one has been apprehended. Every homestead received mosquito nets from Unicef and they are meant to prevent malaria.If the problem persists we may end up moving around homesteads to do an audit of the mosquito nets and those who do not have them will have to explain,” said Makhurane.
Madubeko Ndlovu, a 71-year-old villager in Mapate urged authorities to take action against those illegally catching fish using mosquito nets saying their method was destructive. Ndlovu said the method was harmful as it could lead to the extinction of the fish.
“A mosquito net will catch everything including the eggs and in future we may never have fish, besides a lot of water is lost in the process,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu who runs a nutritional garden along the river said people should not use starvation as an excuse.
“There are many ways one can get food instead of destroying the environment, its only that people want to reap without putting an effort.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) latest findings, Matabeleland South is on course of totally eliminating malaria in all pro-malaria zones.