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Recovery of stolen nets in Guinea

Bales of netsIn September 2019 we informed you that AMF-funded nets had been stolen from Guinea. We are now pleased to report that these nets have been found, identified and returned to Guinea and will be distributed to beneficiaries as intended.


46,000 AMF-funded nets were stolen in Guinea in 2019, part of a total of 88,000 nets that were diverted from Guinea to Mali, where they were repackaged to be sold to the Malian Ministry of Health for use in their mass distribution campaign. All of these nets were recovered in Mali and have now been returned to Guinea where they will be distributed in areas where they are most needed. We will continue to work with the Guinean authorities to understand the mechanism by which the nets were stolen. The Malian Ministry of Health, Justice Department and the police in Mali have been particularly helpful in this matter and arrests have been made. These 46,000 nets were part of the 4.8 million nets that AMF funded for the Guinea campaign and therefore were 0.96% of the total nets funded.


In our last full update on this topic, we shared that 98,500 nets had been found in counterfeit packaging in a warehouse in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Since then, an AMF representative based in Guinea has made multiple trips to Bamako and has worked closely with the local partners and the Malian authorities, to understand the situation and to ensure AMF nets are returned to Guinea. The events as we understand them are as follows.

In 2018 the Mali National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) had a shortage of nets for their mass distribution. Given the urgent net gap, an international partner with nets in storage in Bamako agreed to loan 200,000 nets to the NMCP. This was on the basis that the NMCP would procure 200,000 nets after the distribution to return to the international partner. The procurement of the nets was done by the Mali Ministry of Health and the contract was awarded to a company called Elite Global Services.

Elite Global Services did not purchase nets from a World Health Organisation certified net manufacturer. Rather, they diverted nets from Guinea in lorries where they were sent to a small ‘workshop’ warehouse in Bamako. In this ‘workshop’ warehouse, net labels were cut off to remove evidence of net type or provenance. Each net was then wrapped into counterfeit packaging of an established net– Vestergaard’s PermaNet 2.0 – before being sent to a storage warehouse in Bamako.

On 13th September 2019 the ‘workshop’ warehouse was raided by Malian police. On 18th September 2019, AMF’s representative discovered 98,500 nets in the storage warehouse. Evidence found at the ‘workshop’ warehouse strongly suggests that all of the nets stolen from Guinea were present in the storage warehouse.

After the discovery, we carried out an identification process to establish how many of the 98,500 nets belonged to each funder. This showed a total of 88,000 nets from all funders in Guinea, of which 46,000 were AMF nets. The remaining 10,500 nets were unidentifiable.

The Malian authorities helped facilitate the identification process and accepted these findings. They agreed to return the nets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, repatriation of these nets slowed. The nets officially passed from Malian to Guinean possession in Bamako on 29th May 2020. Subsequently transport across the border was arranged, and by September 2020, all nets were returned to Guinea. We have been working with partners in Guinea to send the 46,000 AMF-funded nets to areas with lower net coverage and that work is almost complete. We have been using data from our post distribution monitoring at 9 months after distribution to guide these decisions.

Lessons learned

The processes that we agree with Ministries of Health when funding nets aim to minimise the risk of theft. These include independent monitoring, collection of household level information, and tracking net movement and delivery. We will continue to work with the Guinean authorities to understand better how the nets were diverted to Mali and will update our processes if necessary. An AMF representative in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, is liaising with the Ministry of Health and Justice to understand where in the supply chain the theft occurred.

We have taken specific actions aimed at increasing the chances of identifying AMF nets in the event of a future theft. These include the following new elements that are unique to AMF nets: label size, coloured stitching, coloured loops, bale number on net label, bale number on a banner of the label that passes through the stitching of the net. These elements would enable us to quickly identify AMF nets, even if the label had been cut off, as was the case in the Guinea-Mali situation. We have negotiated these items with our net manufacturers and have already implemented them for subsequent orders in Uganda, DRC and Togo.

We are pleased to have tracked down the stolen nets, and have them returned to Guinea to be used for their original purpose: to protect people from malaria when they sleep at night.

19 Jun 20 – Update 5: June 2020
06 Mar 20 – Update 4: March 2020
05 Dec 19 – Update 3: November 2019
31 Oct 19 – Update 2: October 2019
30 Sep 19 – Update 1: September 2019
24 Sep 19 – AMF investigating possible theft of nets in Guinea