LUSAKA – On a chilly August afternoon in Chongwe, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the Zambian capital, Lusaka, a handful of children warm themselves around a small fire on the banks of the Chalimbana River. In the mud near the water rests the mosquito net they have been fishing with, a wriggly mass of tadpole-sized fry too small to eat dying in its folds.
One girl, shivering in her wet clothes, proudly shows off a plastic shopping bag filled with her catch. The children have been taught it’s wrong to use these nets but they still do so openly, compromising future fishing by trapping eggs and small immature fish in its fine gauze. One older boy explains the river water is contaminated, so they shouldn’t drink it. When he’s asked why, he shrugs. Worrying about the sewage that might be washing down the river from a posh new development upriver in Lusaka East is left up to the adults.