Monthly Archives: April 2018

Turkana West Integrated Savings & Credit Cooperative Society Launched

Action Africa Help International – Kenya inaugurated Turkana West Integrated Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (TWISACCO) in Turkana County on 29th March 2018.

Turkana County Commissioner of Co-operatives, Mr Bernard, AAHI area Manager, Jacob Nyawarti and Turkana County Government Minister in charge of Trade, Youth affairs and sports attended the event in order to personally handover the Sacco’s registration certificate and acknowledge AAH-I’s dedicated support to Turkana’s community.

  Turkana County Commissioner of cooperatives handing over the registration certificate to TWISSACO Chairperson Thomas Echapan

 

Countless households in Kakuma and Kalobeyei (Turkana, Kenya) lack access to affordable and attainable financial services that can improve their livelihood. The financial exclusion suffered by the community makes it even harder for refugees to blend into their new environment, therefore impacting their quality of life and ability to start and manage businesses.

Kenya is the host country of over 480,000 refugees, the majority of them originating from Somalia and South Sudan.

According to the UN Capital Development Fund affordable access to financial services can help forcibly displaced people cope with negative shocks, reduce exposure to risk and stimulate economic activity at community level. Supporting them is key to ensuring their sustainable self-reliance in the host community.

Action Africa Help Kenya’s interventions target the most vulnerable groups through its projects in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, Turkana County. Since 2005, AAH Kenya has been working in partnership with marginalized Kenyan communities living in low income urban and rural settings.

This initiative is in an aim to enhance the resilience of displacement affected populations in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, Turkana West Sub-County. AAH Kenya also held a pre-incorporation training in Kakuma town, Kakuma refugee camp 1-4, Kalobeyei settlement and kalobeyei host community to ensure a total inclusion in the establishment of the SACCO from persons of concern and host community.

At the end of 2015, it was estimated that over 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced. This includes 2.1 million refugees and 3.2 million asylum seekers.

The development of the Turkana West integrated Savings and Credit Co-operative society will ensure that its beneficiaries ,being Turkana’s refugees and host community, have easy access to affordable financial credit, therefore boosting enterprise growth and financial self-reliance. With a membership drawn from the refugees and host communities, TWISACCO will provide a platform that fosters integration between different cultures drawn from different countries.

“Action Africa Help International’s spirited endeavours to strengthen Turkana’s refugees and residents peaceful co-existence and economic stability are greatly valued”- Turkana County Government Minister.

“The launch of TWISACCO will not only enable us (refugees) and our host community to benefit from financial credit and freedom but also play an active role in the SACCO’s management. I am privileged and moved by Action Africa Help’s initiative”- Adil Ibrahim, a refugee from Sudan.

The formation of AAH Kenya TWISACCO, under the SPARK (Support for Protection & Assistance of Refugees in Kenya) DFID funded programme is an indication of Action Africa Help International’s commitment to addressing marginalized communities’ challenges through financial inclusion. Action Africa Help International will continue to work with local governments and communities to support and enhance persons of concern’s self-reliance.

Food rations saving lives in Mangala County, South Sudan

“This is the first time that my community has received large quantities of food per household from an organization”.  These were the words of 75-year-old Emelia Keji Bojur Boma in South Sudan when she received a ration of pulses to supplement her diet.

The protracted conflict and the ongoing economic crisis in South Sudan are negatively impacting farming activities which has led to food insecurity. Although there was a harvest season in September 2017, a report from a Needs Assessment conducted by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission indicates that 6 million people (56% of the total population) were severely food insecure. Out of these 40,000 were in humanitarian catastrophe at a household level and 2 million were facing emergency food insecurity. However, an anticipated earlier than normal start of the lean season resulted in an estimated 5.1 million (48% of the total population) people being classified as severely food insecure in January-March 2018.

The result is that food prices in Juba are high. The cost of staple foods has risen by more than 100% in most markets, while the increment ranges between 25% to 100% in a few markets. In Juba, a 100 kg bag of sorghum costs 11,285 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), compared to 4,314 SSP a year ago. As household incomes have remained stagnant in the midst of the wide-spread economic crisis, it is difficult for poor and very poor market-dependent households to absorb increasing food prices and meet their minimum food requirements.

With support from the World Food Programme (WFP), Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) is implementing a general food distribution and cash assistance project to close this gap. The overall objective is to contribute to improved food security and nutrition status of at least 10,500 vulnerable food insecure households in selected Payams of Juba County. This is expected to be achieved through; improve short term access to food for food insecure communities in Mangala Payam through General Food Distribution and to provide livelihood support and build resilience of flood affected persons in Gondokoro Payam through Cash Assistance for Assets.

Distribution of pulses to the community

Mangalla and Gondokoro Counties, both in Jubek State, suffered a devastating flood between August and September 2017. The flood wiped away peoples’ livelihood and destroyed property and food reserves. Five Bomas in Gondokoro (Nyoli, Somba, Kango, Moli and Moninyak) were affected, leaving at least 4,000 persons in need of support. In Mangalla County, 7 Bomas (Gabo, Bajulu, Dibali, Logo, Tukele, Jokoki, and Mangalla) were affected, destroying livelihoods for 7,000 people.

“We are grateful to AAH-I because they distributed the food at a right time when the community has started land preparation and planting for the next season. These food rations will give us adequate energy for cultivation and will push us until the next harvesting season”, said Catholic Priest for Mangalla Church Father James Pitya. Cicilia Poni from Mangala Center agrees. “The food we have received will save our lives in this crisis. May God bless AAH-I and WFP.”

 

Community members after receipt of food rations

The project kicked off in January 2018 and is expected to run until December 2018. To date a total of 1,795 households (10,500 persons) have received food items such as cereals (157,500 Kgs), pulses (3,940 Kgs), vegetable cooking oil (14,400 litres) and salt (2,500 kgs). Community food management committees have been established at each distribution site. The committees are responsible for organizing the beneficiaries, checking and verifying distribution lists and managing the food scoping exercise. Under the Cash assistance for Assets aspect of the project, the community is guided to choose a food production activity which will be implemented by the community. Each project participant is required to work for 15 days a month for a six month period (90 days of assistance).

“Over 30 non-governmental organizations have come to register people in large numbers, but AAH-I is the only agency that has fulfilled their promise and actually did the food distribution in our time of need. The food will save us and our children,” said Anyeze Igale from Mankaro Boma.

Building a workforce equipped with vocational skills

It was a day for 732 graduates (331 female, 401 male) and their friends and families to applaud their successes, to reflect on their accomplishments, and to think about their future. In a colourful ceremony, the graduates received certificates after successfully completing 6-month courses in the following areas:

  • Languages: Basic Mathematics, Somali, English and French (144)
  • Computer, SPSS and QuickBooks (78)
  • Early Childhood Education (50)
  • Peace and conflict sensitive programing (120)
  • Entrepreneurship (221)
  • Tailoring (19)
  • Plumbing (15)
  • Catering (45)
  • Painting (21)
  • Electrical (19)

The trainings was held at the Peaceful Coexistence Centre and the Skills Production Centre, both managed by the Somalia programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), with funding support from UNHCR.

244 of these graduates (33%) are refugees from Ethiopia and Yemeni now living in Hargeisa, Somaliland. 343 are Somali returnees, 94 are members of the host community and 51 are internally displaced persons.

The graduation event was attended by UNHCR Representative Caroline Van Buren, UNHCR Hargeisa Head of Office Xhemil Shahu, Special Envoy Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey, Government officials from Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, UNHCR partners and Refugee and Hosting communities committees.

 

Painting graduate Said Qays Abdulqadir with his certificate and toolkit

During the event, Abdullah Keinan AAH Somalia Country Programme Manager presented certificates of appreciation to the UNHCR Representative Caroline Van Buren, UNHCR Hargeisa Head of Office Xhemil Shahu, while thanking the UN refugee agency for the support to refugees through its cooperation with AAH-I.

UNHCR Representative Ms. Caroline Van Buren congratulated the graduates and expressed her joy that over 40% of those now equipped with various skills are female. She encouraged all graduates to continue their good work and to utilize their knowledge to build their livelihoods.

 

Electricity Graduate Abdizamad Munir (R) receives toolkit and certificate from UNHCR Representative Caroline van Buren

Ethiopian Refugee Community Leader Imana Hailu and Yemeni Refugee Community Leader Mohamed Salim Hussein spoke at the event and highlighted how the lives of many of the people they represent have been positively changed through the skills conducted by AAH-I.

The theme of graduation event was ‘Integrated self-reliance and peaceful coexistence approach to support skills development and income generation’. The graduates received certificates and tool kits to start their own businesses. The skills training are within a project being implemented by AAH-I with funding from UNHCR, whose objective is to improve self-reliance and livelihood, and to promote integration and peaceful coexistence in Hargeisa. It is anchored within the UNHCR 2014-2018 Livelihoods Framework, UNHCR community-based approach and UNHCR community-based protection mechanism.

Preserving dignity of women & girls in emergencies

During emergency and crisis situations, priority is usually given to the provision of food, shelter and security when settling populations at refugee settlements or refugee camps. However, there is need to also take into account the special hygiene, dignity and health needs of women and girls.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, there are about 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. A 2017 UNICEF report indicates that 86% of them are women and children. The country programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) in Uganda is supporting the health department to ensure that refugee mothers from the Kyangwali refugee settlement who deliver at health facilities not only have access to a clean and skilled delivery, but that they also receive dignity kits.

This kit is procured and put together by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the lead UN agency for reproductive health. The kit is meant to help the mothers and babies to maintain their dignity and have access to health facility based deliveries within refugee settings. Preserving dignity boosts the women’s self-esteem and confidence, which is crucial in coping with the stress that comes with fleeing from conflict in one’s home country.

AAH-I supports the distribution of these kits at health centers managed by AAH-I. The distribution is aimed at every new refugee who delivers from target health facilities. The assumption is that during escape from their home countries, expectant mothers might not be completely prepared for their newborn deliveries. For the mother, the kit contains a ‘leso’ (large shawl), slippers, soap, cotton wool, knickers and a bucket. The baby’s kit contains items to keep the baby clean and warm after being delivered. It contains a baby shawl, baby cap, socks and baby clothes.

AAH Uganda in KyangwaliAAH-I health worker (right) with a refugee mother and her newborn

Due to proximity to the new caseload within Kyangwali refugee settlement, most of the child deliveries by refugee mothers takes place at Kasonga and Kyangwali health centres. A total of 250 dignity kits were received from UNFPA and distributed by AAH-I in these two health centres.

Rethinking health care programme delivery

For over 25 years, AAH-I has shaped health care delivery using community based strategies in the communities of South Sudan. These strategies have been consistent, context specific and addressed beneficiary needs, leading to sustainability, an after effect of community ownership.

AAH South Sudan health programmeAttending to a patient at an AAH-I-run medical facility in South Sudan

 

The recurring conflict in South Sudan is shifting community structures, and in effect, influencing interventions from development programmes to more of emergency and reintegration. On the other hand, the changing global and regional context is impacting on programme delivery strategies, with an increased focus on sustainability.

The evolution from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) prompted an analysis of the relevance and impact of our health programmes. Among the strategies identified was shifting focus from hospital-based interventions to more community-focused interventions. This not only produces high impact, but also leverages on domestic resources for sustainability and improved health outcomes.

The Regional Primary Health Care project of AAH South Sudan has now incorporated and operationalized community-based strategies in its programming. This includes community-led sanitation programs and implementation of the Boma Health Initiative, a government-led program whose objective is to establish community health structures for sustainable health outcomes. “This is what we want, I am glad AAH-I decided to go back to basics to facilitate approaches that meet the population at their point of need”, said Mr. Daniel Alphonse, the Director General, Maridi State Ministry of Health. Mr. Alphonse is a former principal at the AAH-I-supported Maridi School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The AAH-I team is currently conducting a baseline survey that will provide a comprehensive guide for the next phase of programme implementation. The baseline will give guidelines on equity, areas for prioritization, the technology to be applied, socio-cultural aspects, target groups, strategies for full involvement of the community, cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

The revitalization programme will afford AAH-I an opportunity to better engineer our interventions for effective and high impact programs.