Thank God we don’t have them here

tsetse flyThe Ethiopian Government has been running posters in the southern part of Ethiopia to warn farmers about the risk of tsetse fly (which kill cattle and cause sleeping sickness).

To reinforce the message, and to make sure that farmers know exactly what they are looking for, they have been using posters with huge images of the tsetse fly itself.*

This has, however, not had the intended effect.

Two farmers were overheard talking to each other in a local dialect in the south, having come in to town on market day and seeing the new poster:

“Thank God we don’t have huge flies like that here.”

* I don’t have a photo of the actual poster – if anyone does, I’d love to have a copy of it.

2 comments on “Thank God we don’t have them here”

  1. so, no pre-campaign testing. here in tanzania we are suffering anti-malaria TV spots. They are cartoons where giant mosquitoes buzz around talking to each other in respectable English accents, though it appears to be canadian in origin. First time I saw it I didn’t recognise them as mosquitoes either.

  2. Hm, it’s a good story, and it makes a sound point. But it must be at least 10 years since I first heard this one. And yes, then it was malaria mosquitoes.

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and