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Credited with averting almost 68% of new cases between 2000 and 2015, insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) are one of the most efficacious malaria-prevention tools. Their effectiveness, however, depends on if and how they are used, making 'compliance' (and the social factors affecting it) a key area of interest for research on malaria transmission. This article situates the notion of compliance with 'bednet use' within everyday practices in an area of south-west Burkina Faso with high malaria transmission. By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2017 and 2018, it critically describes the precarious micro-environments that foreground bednet use-from gender and age to the means of (re)production of social and labour conditions-and assesses the bednets' effectiveness and community uptake. Bednet use stems from concrete, ordinary dynamics that interweave only apparently at the margins of the time individuals most need to be protected by a net. This work conceptualises 'compliance' beyond binary indicators of intervention uptake and locates 'use' as the result of contingent assemblages.

Original publication




Journal article


Anthropology & medicine

Publication Date



1 - 18


Vector Biology Department, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK.