Community training in Elwak
40 men and 40 women from communities in Elwak gathered at the Women Hall to participate in a concurrent training on health and conflict management. Health promotion and community cohesion were identified as follow-up training topics during action meetings held in June 2017. Action Africa Help International facilitated the training, under the Integrated Community Rehabilitation project funded by Bread for the World.
Elwak is in the Gedo region of South Central Somalia where insecurity from militia and clan politics and rivalry are common. According to the World Health Organization, almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries. More than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and almost one third occur in South Asia. More than half of maternal deaths occur in fragile and humanitarian settings.
In Elwak it is common that household heads delay in addressing pregnancy-related issues and prefer to instead use traditional approaches, which often results in maternal complications. Some of the topics discussed during the participatory training included:
- Recommended diet for pregnant and lactating mothers, including the use of vitamin supplements and folic acid
- Encouraging women to have prenatal visits to clinics
- Encourage exclusive breastfeeding
- Promoting and monitoring of proper growth of the newborn
- Promoting hygiene and sanitation and discouraging open defecation
One of the participants was Khadija Dubow Ali, a mother of three children aged eight months, three years and five years. “The training has helped us to gain skills and knowledge. In the past we used to give birth at home. We didn’t know the importance of antenatal and postnatal visits to hospitals, and the benefits of folic acid for expectant mothers.”
In a separate room, the men held discussions on conflict management. The topics discussed included:
- Tools for preventing and managing conflict and understanding the root cause of the conflict
- Consensus building among conflicting parties
- Discouraging violence against women, especially domestic violence, and rape and early marriages
- Promotion of family planning
- Eradicating female genital mutilation
- Encouraging men to take family responsibilities
“The tools on preventing conflict management such as skills development for conflict transformation, conflict sensitive approaches, channelling one’s energy towards something constructive, respecting personal space and continuous capacity-building in conflict management will be very important in our fragile conflicting environment.” said Ali Hassan Abdi, one participants.
The objective of the training was to increase community awareness on issues that affect them the most, and to map strategies for resolving these issues.