RI has seen much success in its activities in North Darfur over the last months. In 2008, RI was able to fulfill one if its strategic goals by completing the construction of two women’s center in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. These RI-supported centers now serve as a safe space for women and girls in the region.
The newly constructed women’s center was put to use almost immediately as RI’s women’s development team, in coordination with local partner, provided health training for local women which included promotion of safe motherhood skills and pre- and post-natal visits with health providers, sensitization on the value of routine immunization for pregnant women and children under 5, promotion of basic hygiene, and STI prevention. Nutrition education was also included, which promoted breastfeeding, best-use of food rations, and tips for recognizing child malnutrition and for preparing high-nutrient meals to prevent loss of breast milk.
Construction and Operation of a Clean Delivery Room, Zam Zam Camp
In an effort to expand upon the safe motherhood or maternal health services offered through the Zam Zam Clinic, RI constructed a safe delivery room within the clinic’s safe motherhood center. Since completing construction, trained RI health personnel have assisted in 13 clinic-based deliveries. In the coming months, RI will work with community-based health staff to increase awareness and sensitize the community on the benefits of using the clinic’s clean delivery room. In general women continue to deliver babies in their homes with the assistance of Traditional Birthing Attendants (TBAs). RI has been training TBAs since 2005 as part of an effort to ensure that they have good skills in clean delivery and recognition of emergency obstetric complications. But RI hopes that the delivery room option sees higher utilization for benefit of both mother and child survival impact. In consultation with the community, RI is now devising culturally appropriate messaging that highlights the benefits of deliveries in the new RI-supported clean delivery room which include better access for emergency support.
Construction and Operation of the Satellite Nutrition Center
Relief International continues to be the sole provider of therapeutic nutritional support to vulnerable populations in Zam Zam Camp. Over the past year RI has focused on increasing access to nutritional support in the camp through the construction of a second nutrition facility. The RI nutrition team completed construction of the Zam Zam satellite nutrition center in Jafalo in February 2008. It is strategically located on the south side of the camp to reduce the prohibitive distance vulnerable women and children must travel in order to obtain necessary medical treatment for malnutrition. This center is also focused on care that extends directly to the household through trained regional community workers who can conduct necessary home monitoring. Preliminary data for RI’s nutrition program revealed the malnutrition cure rate increased and the follow-up visit default rate decreased in the first quarter of ‘08--a great success.
Skilled nutrition teams are the front line responders the deteriorating nutritional status among Dafuris. One of the battles that face humanitarian workers at this point in the Darfur crisis is access: the nature of the conflict is such that national and expatriate staff all face risk of attack or limited movement to reach populations in need – especially in rural areas of camps and villages. So we are moving to a largely “community-based” approach for health, nutrition, and agriculture. This also builds access in remote villages and trains residents to be advocates and help with identification of emergency care that otherwise might never have been found. For a nutrition worker to function primarily in his or her home village, rather than travel daily to a central and distant worksite, reduces the risk of harm overall and maximizes those community’s access to an expert on a more routine basis.
Training of Nutrition Center Staff and Community Nutrition Workers
Zam Zam Clinic serves as a resource, education, and training hub for 7 village-based clinics. In the last two quarters RI has trained 62 nutrition staff regarding malnutrition management, home-based care, support and monitoring, as well as skills to raise beneficiary awareness of different nutrition aspects.
As a first step toward RI’s “Scholarships Inspiring Darfur Girls to Achieve” initiative, RI is working with donors from Global Giving and private foundations to rehabilitate two and construct two new women’s centers. The Darfur Women’s Centers will serve as female-friendly community spaces in Kabkabiya, a remote village in North Darfur. The durable centers will host continuing education programs for women and girls, and will serve as a resource for a girls mentoring program – a mentoring network of women that offer “stay in school” and extracurricular support for secondary education that can counteract the hurdles girls currently face attending school. Through participation in the community centers, RI will select recipients of scholarships to provide girls who are forced to stop going to school with the funds and emotional coaching they need to resume their education. The new centers are strategically located to ensure that communities of internally displaced persons and host communities, have equitable access to the services provided.
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