Hanging a bed net [UNICEF]

OK, so hanging a bed net ia a pain in the behind. Why? Let’s go through the steps.

First of all, it asks you to air out your net for a day. But in New York City, that’s pretty much impossible. I’m guessing that’s about the only advantage Northern Ugandans have in terms of installing this thing.

Secondly, I expected some kind of hanging hooks or screws or nails to come with this thing. However, there was nothing. It said to use string to hang it, but if you don’t have string at the moment, you can’t hang it.

Thirdly, it’s unclear how safe it is by just reading the package. Can I hang it up around my dog? Is it OK to touch it and then eat food with those same hands? Does it leave a residue on my stuff that is dangerous?

In any case, I went out to the hardware store to buy a few things to hang this from. I assumed I didn’t need anything that held too much weight because these bed nets are pretty light. So I got this rope:

The entire time at the hardware store, I wondered whether Ugandans would have access to this kind of material. I imagine butcher twine or a nylon rope would be more likely. But I bought this because I think it’s materials are extremely cheap, and it’s very sturdy.

I also bought this hook/nail set to hang the rope from:

You get four of these in a pack, and I imagine it wouldn’t be expensive at all to ship these in bulk. It also allows the end to be nailed over the rope, which is nice if you want to make sure the rope isn’t going to fall. However, this required a hammer — at at least something hard to bang it with. Is this a readily available tool? When they ship bed nets to the villages, can they just give them one hammer for everyone?

So I got to work on these hooks first, and I got them up like this:

I was feeling pretty good about myself because this seemed pretty easy at this point. However, the next 20 minutes were not fun. It was unclear just how low I needed to make the nets. Also, I had to be very strategic about where to hang the hooks. I think the instructions on the back of the package do a poor job of describing strategies of how to best install these nets. In addition, they keep on falling off. The nails don’t stick in the sheet rock. I imagine the walls in Ugandan villages aren’t much better, so I don’t know how the hell these people are hanging this up. Anyway, after wrestling with this for a while, I finally got it up!

Not bad, eh? Only problem is: I’m not sure if the tiny space at the bottom of the net is OK. Can a mosquito get in? How do mosquitos behave? Do they seek this out? Are there so many that we just need to shut all the holes? In addition, I know most nets aren’t this color. But seriously. This color needs to go. While it is fun, is this the best color for dissipating heat? Also it might be nice if the bed nets were less… there. If it were more clear, I’d be more willing to put it up. However, maybe it also wouldn’t do a great job of hiding dirt and it would get messier quicker. Something to consider.

I also wanted to see if my dog was OK sitting inside the bed net, and what would happen if she wanted to get out. It turns out she can tear this thing down pretty easily; here’s a picture before she tore it down.

So takeaways:

  • Installation needs to get easier. Can there be tools included? Can there be strategies of hanging the nets on the bag?
  • There needs to be more information about these nets on the package.
  • Once it is up, how do we make it less intrusive? Can it possible be relaxing even? Can other functions be built into the nets?
  • We’re essentially making a room with a net. What better ways are there to do this?

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