Monthly Archives: January 2019

Handicrafts weaving hope for women and girls in Turkana

The high temperatures of about 33 degrees celsius does not seem to deter at least 100 women intricately working with colourful beads, reeds and gunny bags at the Action Africa Help International (AAH-I)-managed business centre in Kalobeyei refugee settlement, Turkana County. There are a few children sitting and playing close to their mothers.

These women, refugees and from the host community, are weaving baskets and doing beadwork to earn a living. To date there are 10 groups of 10 women each actively participating in the project, Safe from the Start. They include the host community and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia. The Kenya programme of AAH-I has chosen handicrafts as a key industry to scale, giving these women and girls at risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) an opportunity to make a living from their skills and break the cycle of violence that is worsened by poverty.

64-year-old Ndikuriyo Theodore, a refugee from Burundi now living at the Kalobeyei refugee settlement is one of these women. “My husband and I were comfortable and raising our children when the first conflict broke out in 1993. We went to Uganda but returned to our village in Kitundo when the situation improved. We settled and were living well and even building a home in the capital city Bujumbura when the war broke out a second time in 2016. But it was really bad this second time. We tried to escape but unfortunately, I watched my husband being killed at the border of Uganda and Burundi. I escaped into Uganda and settled in Kampala while my children went to Tanzania. In Kampala, with other refugees, we got a bus that brought us here in 2016.

“Being a part of this handicraft project is helping me to make an income and not completely depend on food rations. But is also an opportunity for social interaction with other women who have experiences similar to mine. The social setting at the refugee settlement can get very lonely. When we come here we encourage each other as we work. My smile is slowly coming back,” she says.

To start off the project, AAH Kenya partnered with Bawa Hope to conduct a skills assessment of the women’s skills.

“Women between 18 and 59 years are selected based on prior training and skill in tailoring, registration with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, women not already benefitting from another income generating activity (to ensure a fair targeting system and maximize the opportunities for those who are vulnerable), and a demonstrated interest and self-motivation to work in group,” says Bawa Hope Representative Andrew Mutisya. “We challenge their design process and work with them to strengthen quality and consistency. Because our market for these products is in Europe, we expose them to global trends, seasons and colours and train them to craft items for home décor, lighting, storage and jewelry.”

“When refugees flee their homes, they lose their source of livelihoods but carry with them traditional skills and craftmanship, most of them having learnt the skills from childhood. We are uplifting the women by improving these skills and linking them to local and global markets,” says AAH Kenya Country Programme Manager Dr Kamau Githaiga.

The handicrafts project is made possible with funding support from UNHCR.

Addressing malnutrition in Gedo region

The Somalia programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) has distributed plumpy nuts to children at risk of malnutrition in Elwak, Gedo region.

The process of selecting children and families to benefit from the distribution was done in consultation with the project committee stakeholders and local leaders in the villages of Oktoba, Holwadag, Madina and Wagbiri locations.

Beneficiary selection
The criteria used for selection included:

  • Households with malnourished children

This was specifically for children whose middle-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement was below 12.5 cm. MUAC is a measure to assess nutritional status. It is measured on a straight left arm, mid-way between the tip of the shoulder and the tip of the elbow. Children with MUAC measurements of less than 11.0cm, RED COLOUR, indicates Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and should be immediately referred for treatment; MUAC of between 11.0 cm and 12.5 cm, ORANGE COLOUR (4-colour Tape), indicates Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM). The child should be immediately referred for supplementation.

In this exercise, a total of 200 children were registered – 141 children had a MUAC of between 12 and 12.5cm, 51 with between 11.1 and 11.9cm and 8 with between 9.4 and 11cm. (Read more about how the team kicked off the project in November 2018)

  • Verification by village committees

The AAH-I team worked with the village committee who endorsed the list of household names. This was crucial for ownership at the local level, and also for ensuring that children who receive the nuts are those that need it the most.

AAH-I staff during the distribution in Elwak

Distribution and usage
One sachet (one piece) of plumpy nut weighs 92g and contains 500kcal. It’s recommended that a child takes 1,500kcal per day. A child is required to take 276g of the plumpy nut per day (3 sachets), which is 1,500 kcal per day as per the nutritional requirements. Every child registered received 42 sachets plumpy nuts during the first distribution to use for 2 weeks. Each beneficiary will receive 90 sachets of plumpy nuts on a monthly basis for 3 consecutive months. This is expected to cost USD $67.5 per child over the 3 months period.

Subsequent distribution will be done after every 2 weeks for the next 3 months, deliberately planned this way to mitigate the potential of families selling the nuts to supplement household incomes, which would undermine the impact of the intervention on the children. To replenish, parents are required to return empty sachets of the used plumpy nuts in exchange for new supplies.

The nutrition programme is expected to support the reduction of the number of children whose MUAC is below 12.5cm by 10%. The project will target a total of 200 children from Waberi, Halwadag, October and Madina villages to address long-term sustainable nutrition.

This initiative is funded by Bread for the World under the Integrated Community Rehabilitation Programme, whose goal is to enhance community resilience.












Promoting child survival goals in Uganda

3,059 children under five years were immunized between January and November 2018 in Kyangwali, Kikuube district in western Uganda.  They were immunized against 9 vaccine preventable diseases – polio, tuberculosis, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, measles and haemophilus influenza type B. The initiative is under a health project being implemented by the Uganda programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) with funding support from UNHCR.

The main goal of the health project is to ensure that the health status of the population is improved and avoidable morbidity and mortality of refugees and the surrounding host community is reduced. Achieving child survival goals in Kikuube district entails supporting access to safe, effective, high-quality and affordable care for all. Other aspects of the health project include the provision and support of health care services in comprehensive safe motherhood, reproductive health, appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and management of acute malnutrition.

AAH Uganda immunizationVaccination at AAH-I-managed Rwenyawawa health centre in Kyangwali

The project is combining the administration of vitamin A supplements with immunization services in order to eliminate vitamin A deficiency and save lives. In November 2018, 2,106 children aged 6-59 months received vitamin supplements. Other nutrition-related activities conducted in the same month included growth monitoring for 3,020 children under-five years and screening for acute malnutrition for 2,742 children. 240 children found to be moderately malnourished and 154 severely malnourished were admitted on therapeutic care.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest under-five mortality rate in the world. In 2017, the region had an average under-five mortality rate of 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. This translates to 1 in 13 children dying before his or her fifth birthday. Recent data from the Demographic and Survey indicated that Uganda has under-five mortality of 64/1,000 live births. The project is complementing target 3.2 Sustainable Development Goal 3 of ending all preventable deaths for children under 5 years and aims to contribute to the reduction of neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under‑5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

A second chance to build my career

These three students are from the same auto-mechanics class in Jamjang. The class of 8 students from both the refugee and host community began their training on 13 September 2018. This is their progress.

“I am prepared me to sit the government-accredited examination.”

Siyanda Yousef Abanga, 27 years

“Today I am servicing a rear drum brake of a Toyota Land Cruiser belonging to Care International. This is something I had never imagined I would be able to do. I am a refugee from Nuba Mountain in Sudan. My parents and younger brothers fled the war and came here in Ajuong Thok in South Sudan. Settling to live as a refugee life was not easy. I ended up dropping out of school from Senior Two to sell groundnut paste at Ajoung Thok Market. However, I incurred many losses as the business did not pick up well. I was unable to contribute to the household budget.”

Siyanda continues. “I heard my friends discussing about an advertised training course in auto-mechanics being facilitated by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I). The course targets the youth from both the refugee and the host community. I was glad to meet the recruitment criteria and that gender was not an obstacle! I am the only girl among boys in a class of 8 learners. The course runs for 3 months. I have gained practical skills and knowledge and can now carry out vehicle service and general maintenance in any vehicle workshop. I am grateful to my trainers and to AAH-I who have prepared me to take the government-accredited examination by the Department of Vocational Training under Ministry of Science and Technology.”

“I will ensure that this ambulance is in good working condition before it leaves this workshop.”

AAH SS apprentice 3 Jamjang

“I am contributing to health service delivery.”
Joseph Diing Majook, 26 years

“Today I am servicing an engine water cooling system of the broken down ambulance belonging to the State Referral Hospital. I am working on the radiator, replacing the injector fuel pump and fan belt, conducting tests on the thermostat and checking the top and bottom radiator hose pipes/clamps. I am humbled to be contributing to health service delivery in the country.

“I came here to visit my relatives here in Ajuong Thok after sitting the secondary school national examination. I heard about this training opportunity just before my return to Juba and made up my mind to stay and send in my application. I made it to the shortlist and was among the successful candidates. I started my classes in auto-mechanics in September 2018. Although the training only takes 3 months, we were already combining theory and practical skills by the second week. I have gained competence in diagnostics and general service and carry general maintenance. I have also gained skills in basic store management. I thank AAH-I and UNHCR for this opportunity.”

AAH SS apprentice 1 Jamjang

“My family was almost reduced to begging.”

Murad Musa Karabel, 24 years

“I arrived in South Sudan in 2014, fleeing the war in my country Sudan. The highest price I paid for this displacement is that my education was interrupted. I got temporarily employed as a casual worker with Samaritan’s Purse in Yida. I was enjoying my job as a technician welder before my contract ended. This was difficult as I needed to support my wife and 3 children. We were almost reduced to beggars. I set up a bicycle repair shop at the market but I hardly made any profit.

“One day my wife told me about an advertisement at the notice board at the market. I was initially reluctant but got excited when I learnt that it was a training course on auto-mechanics. I was motivated to send in my application because I considered it related to welding skills I already had. My dream is to get employed and have a stable contract after graduation. But if this does not happen, I am well equipped to open my own mobile workshop if opportunities are not yet available.”

Murad continues. “Today I am servicing this big powered ARV Generator. I will change the engine oil and oil and air filters and replace the oil pump, motor and engine mounting. The training has helped me to be competent to carry out general inspection on any vehicle and generator. I am grateful to AAH-I for their support.”

AAH SS apprentice 2 Jamjang