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Mosquito nets and collective impact

Throughout years, the distribution of mosquito nets was considered one of the most effective methods to fight against malaria. But a study, in 2018, showed that those nets are, many times and across the globe, used for fishing. In Mozambique, the authorities wanted to repel the misuse by punishing the outlaws, with prison sentences and the destructions of their nets. Many women manifested at the police stations’ doors with children by their arms, threatening leaving them there, since they could no longer feed them. In other places, it’s feared that the use of these nets has environmental impacts: the thin net captures premature fish and the insecticide that covers it contaminates the water courses.

This case illustrates how a linear solution for a specific problem has created new and unexpected problems, while increasing the risk of reducing the effectiveness of the solution itself (since the nets were used for other purposes). The study is concluded by recommending a new approach, interdisciplinary and collaborative, to the problem. Probably, such will lead to the reconfiguration of the problem, to reflect on its complexity.

Collective impact is an effort of different relevant agents – individuals or organizations -, which collaborate to solve a social and/or environmental complex problem, capitalizing its different skills around a common agenda of intervention.

An initiative is of collective impact when it is regulated by five conditions. First, it follows a Common Agenda for the social change, which emerges when all the involved recognize that certain problem is important and urgent, agreeing on an action strategy to solve it.

The common agenda can only move forward when there is a consensus relative to the group of instruments that will be used to measure the progress towards the expected results and to learn with success and failure: the Shared Metrics.

Thirdly, the common agenda operationalizes itself in a plan of action, where will be assigned distinct functions to each partner, in order to capitalize its competences and to reinforce the activities of the remaining: Synergy Activities

The relationship is good when exists a Continuous Communication, clear and rigorous, through routines and communication channels.

But the collective impact is only viable when, at the base of its components, it exists a Support Structure. In other words, an organization that coordinates the effort of the remaining entities and/or individuals.

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