Household Incentives for Bed Nets

Dec 2015
Sayish Molla Admasu, as a result of the strategy, now regularly sleeps under a bed net.

One School’s Innovative Strategy to Increase Bed Net Usage

Heath facilities in Ethiopia’s Dera woreda, located in the South Gondar zone of Amhara Region, were seeing a record number of malaria cases. Community members’ lack of consistent and proper bed net use, which prevents mosquito bites while asleep, was determined to be an underlying issue leading to the high number of malaria cases.

To prevent and control malaria at Mierafemaraim kebele in Dera woreda, a social and behavioral change communication project is underway. The program uses peer education and other in-school behavioral change communications strategies to raise students’ awareness of key malaria action messages. In addition, students in grades five through eight have joined school teachers, religious leaders, and other local stakeholders as agents of change who disseminate key malaria action messages in the woreda to mitigate the devastating effects of malaria.

The project’s focal person, Tilahun Worku, in collaboration with the Mirafemaraim primary school administrator, designed a strategy to increase the proper use of bed nets by the community. The project awards either green, yellow, or red cards to students as certificates, based on their family’s bed net use. The green cards are given to students whose families use bed nets properly and regularly, the yellow to students whose families use bed nets only occasionally, and the red to students whose families do not use bed nets at all. The same color code is also used by kebele taskforce members and peer educators to mark homes during their door-to-door visits.

Worku, who also teaches at the school, described what he has witnessed. “Because of the locally innovative strategy, all the families of the students in the kebele are using bed nets regularly while sleeping.” He added that misuse of the nets in the kebele has decreased significantly because of the intervention.

Sayish Molla Admasu, a community member, stated, “I have never used bed nets in my 55 years until this project. One day, students from the school nearby told me the importance of bed nets so that I will be free from malaria. Ever since that day, I always use a bed net. Because of this, my family members and I have not faced sickness due to malaria.” “Besides,” the woman continued, “my gate has been colored green by the task force; consequently, I am proud that my family and I are always using bed nets.” 

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