Monthly Archives: May 2019

Football tournament promotes peace, unity and reconciliation in Maridi State

The twelve-week football tournament organized in Maridi and Ibba counties in South Sudan’s Maridi State came to a close with Manikakara Football Club emerging as winners of the tournament after they defeated Mudubai Football Club. The team from Ibba county scored 2 goals in the first half and maintained the lead throughout the rest of the match to win 2-0 against the team from Maridi County. The tournament dubbed Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupbrought together youth football teams from twelve Bomas in Maridi and Ibba counties to compete in a football championship aimed at fostering peaceful co-existence and building the spirit of love, forgiveness and reconciliation among the youth of the two neighboring counties.

The Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupis an initiative of the South Sudan programme of Action Africa Help International in partnership with Maridi State Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, funded by Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice that supports change in policies, programs, and conditions to eradicate hunger and poverty in the U.S and around the world. For some 3 years since 2013 AAH South Sudan conducted football tournaments in the former Western and Central Equatorial States of South Sudan aimed at promoting peace and unity among the populations of these two states under the Capacity for Post-Conflict Reintegration (CAPOR) project.

CAPOR employed creative approaches to reach out to and educate communities in attitude and behavior changes that enhanced their capacity to participate in peaceful reconstruction and reintegration processes. To advance the gains made with this approach the Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupwas put together under the Regional Primary Health Care project to deepen harmony among several Bomas in Maridi and Ibba counties of Maridi State, one of the 28 states of South Sudan that was part of the former state of Western Equatoria before the original 10 state split up. Bomas are the second largest administrative units after the village headed by a Chief.

Manikakara Football Club in white and Mudubai Football Club in green with the referees in red who officiated the march

Currently, the Boma Health Initiative is being implemented in Maridi, Yei River and Amadi States of South Sudan – a model that delivers an integrated package of health promotion and disease prevention activities in the villages. Maridi State Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports Honourable Peter Saki Silvan, applauded AAH South Sudan for being ambassadors of peace in the states through games and sports and urged continued support for sports activities in order to promote peaceful co-existence among the divided communities in the states. He recognized AAH South Sudan as the only committed non-governmental organization supporting games and sports in the states. He added that through games and sports the idle youth can be engaged in identifying their talents in sports shunning activities unsupportive of peaceful co-existence. He further called on AAH South Sudan to introduce other games and sports such as hand ball and female football to also enable the ladies compete in games and sports as do their male counterparts.

World Malaria Day Commemoration at Chipungu in Zambia

April 25this an international observance day recognizing the global effort to control and eradicate malaria. Known today as World Malaria Day, it started out as Africa Malaria Day back in 2001 brought about by the need for African governments to gauge success of efforts to control spread of malaria and rise in mortality caused by the disease in African countries. Since the 2007 decision by the World Health Assembly to adopt Africa Malaria Day as the international observance day for malaria, and renaming it World Malaria Day, it has continued to be observed annually over the past ten years to maintain growing awareness of the global fight against the disease. 

According to the latest World Malaria Report by the World Health Organization“no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017”– an indication of the levelling off globally of the advances in fighting malaria over the last ten years. Most malaria cases in 2017 the report reveals were in the WHO Africa Region with 92% of the cases or 200 million people. Of the 91 countries reporting indigenous malaria cases in 2016, 15 countries – all in sub-Saharan Africa, except India – carried 80% of the global malaria burden. 3 million of Zambia’s population of approximately 17 million people were diagnosed with malaria in 2016, with about 7% of the cases progressing to severe malaria.

In Zambia, the national strategic plan of response to malaria has been working through the Program for the Advancement of Malaria Outcomes (PAMO), a USAID-funded consortium that works with the National Malaria Control Centreto strengthen implementation of malaria control and elimination efforts. The Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International is a partner in the consortium involved specifically in; supporting proven malaria interventions in alignment with the National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan 2017–2021 of the Ministry of Health (MOH); strengthening management capacity of provincial and district MOH personnel to provide supervision and mentoring for improved delivery of proven malaria interventions, and; strengthening provincial and district Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) to improve data reporting, analysis and use for decision-making.

AAH Zambia carries out the intervention in Mwansabombwe and Chienge Districts in Luapula Province in the northern part of the country. As part of efforts to shore up the intervention AAH Zambia commemorated the World Malaria Day with an event at Piliashi and Kazembe villages in Chipungu, one of the sub-locations in Chienge with high cases of malaria nationally. Through the event information about prevention and control of malaria was passed on to the community by focal persons from the District Health Office including, the District Environmental Health Technologist and Environmental Health Officer. Also present at the event was the Councillor of Chipungu and Headman of Piliashi village who remarked on the need to eliminate the disease that is prevalent in the community.

Attendants at the event watch a song and dance performance

A live band of boys and girls from the local church led a march within Piliashi and Kazembe villages to mobilise the community to the event. Drama, songs and dance performances in the local language was also used at the event to relay information about malaria transmission, prevention and elimination.

Commemorating World Water Day at Mantapala Refugee Settlement in Zambia

On 22nd March every year people across the world join in commemorating the International World Water Day, an annual UN observance day that focuses attention on the importance of freshwater, calling on the sustainable management of freshwater resources globally. Each year, a theme corresponding to a current or future challenge is set by UN-Water, the entity that coordinates the work on water and sanitation at the UN. This year’s theme is “Leaving no one behind”, an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that is, as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. This is related to the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management for all by 2030.

Globally, World Water Day is celebrated with a variety of events, such as educational, theatrical, musical and lobbying campaigns. Such events bring to light the lack of access to safe drinking water experienced by billions of people around the world. According to the UN marginalized groups including women, children, refugees, and internally displaced persons, are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need. In fact, the latest statistics indicate that for the 68.5 million who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.

As part of the efforts to tackle the difficulty in accessing safe drinking water among displaced populations, the Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International has been implementing water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Mantapala refugee settlement, an integrated refugee settlement located in Nchelenge District of Luapula Province in northern part of Zambia bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since August 2017, refugees fleeing conflict in Pweto area in Tanganyika province of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been arriving at Kenani Transit Centre, a reception centre set up by UNHCR to receive influx of refugees into Zambia crossing through Chiengi District, the smallest and most northerly district of Luapula Province. Most of the refugees received at the transit centre eventually get settled in Mantapala refugee settlement. Currently, there are some 4,236 households in the settlement, each is allotted a plot sized 35 by 25 meters on which to erect a temporary shelter and plant crops to feed their family.

Since the influx into the transit centre begun, Action Africa Help Zambia has been providing WASH assistance both at the centre and Mantapala refugee settlement. With support from UNHCR and UNICEF, AAH Zambia constructs temporary and permanent latrines and bathing shelters, installs tippy-taps, promotes good hygiene, and decommissions old latrines.

During this year’s World Water Day commemoration AAH Zambia involved around 100 refugees in cleaning of some 40 borehole water points in Mantapala settlement. Block committees, elected by block members, brought together members of their respective blocks in the cleaning to clear clogged drainage channels that trap used water around water points, in order to reduce risk of contamination of water in the boreholes and outbreak of water-borne diseases. Shelters were also constructed at 10 water points as a measure for maintaining good hygiene.

A woman fetching water at a fenced borehole water point in the settlement

A march also took place from the main market in Mantapala to Save The Children Square officiated by the Chair of Nchelenge Town Council, Mr. Courageous Monta. Several schools from Mantapala, beneficiaries from the refugee settlement, WASH volunteers from AAH Zambia office, and representatives from Zambia Red Cross also participated in the events through various drama and songs highlighting; the importance of regular cleaning of water points; risks of open defecation near rivers supplying the settlement; right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right; and significance of access to clean and potable drinking water to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Women refugees turn hair styling skills into a women group business

My mother was a hairdresser and she is the one who showed me how to braid, that’s how I got interested in hairdressing.” At just nine years old, Joyce Ozua was already learning how to braid hair by observing how her mother styled hair working as a hairdresser back in Congo. Now in her mid-twenties, she too earns a living working as a hairdresser at a small hair salon in Arua town in northwestern Uganda. Together with other women refugees they set up the hair salon business, after receiving formal training on hairdressing and a start-up kit for the business through a skills development and entrepreneurship training project, facilitated by the Uganda programme of Action Africa Help International with funding from Enabel the Belgian Development Agency.

Joyce with two of her children at the hair salon business premises

Joyce arrived in Uganda in 2004 fleeing violence in her village brought about by war that broke out in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At first, she was settled at IMVEPI refugee settlement in the northeastern part of Arua district but later relocated to Rhino camp, another refugee settlement in the district in northwestern Uganda. Eventually, she settled down with a Ugandan man and bore him three children, two girls now aged 9 and 7 years old and a boy who is still a toddler. To better cope with the difficulties they were experiencing raising a family in a refugee camp, they relocated to Ediofe, a semirural area of Arua town that is the commercial center of the district.

While in Arua Joyce continued to put her hair styling skills to good use through jobs she got at some hair salons in Arua town. Then one day she heard about the training opportunity through an advertisement in the local media channels, which she applied for and got selected. Over some four months Joyce and other trainees were taught advanced hair styling techniques and trained on how to run small business as a group. For two months afterwards, they were also attached to various hair salons to be apprenticed into the trade. Upon completing the training, they received certification from Flamingo Technical Institute, a vocational and technical training institute located in Ediofe, which is also a partner in the skills development and entrepreneurship training project.

To get started in business Joyce and two other women refugees who successfully completed the training grouped to set up a small hair salon in Ediofe. The project assisted them with the start by providing a start-up kit with various equipment for hair styling including hair dryers, combs, rollers, and scissors. Together they run the business pooling the money they make from hairdressing to cover expenditure on hair products, electricity consumption and rent for the business premises. They share the remainder of the pooled money equally among themselves, after settling all expenses at the end of every month.

Dorcus corner in Ediofe where the group’s hair salon business is located

Most of the share of money Joyce earns from the business is used up meeting the needs of her family. Her husband is currently unemployed as he is still pursuing studies, and is unable to contribute much to the needs of their home. Their two daughters attend government schooling that Joyce pays for with the money she earns from the business, limiting spend on other household needs. So, Joyce still receives food rations whenever it is provided, to enable her deal with her responsibilities to her family. “Back in Congo we got by okay with the little we could bring in, but here in Uganda life is much more difficult especially because I’m taking care of most of the needs of my family.” Despite the difficulties Joyce is determined to continue with the business. The group expects to include two more women once they successfully complete their training, so that they can also bring more customers to the salon to add to their earnings.

The skills development and entrepreneurship training project is an intervention under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) that focuses on increasing access to quality skills development through training, scholarships, entrepreneurial skills and start-up kits for refugees and host communities in coordination with Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) – aligned with the National Skilling Uganda strategy of tackling limited formal employment opportunities and barriers to personal development and increased livelihoods in three districts in northwestern Uganda. The project contributes to achieving SDG number 2 which supports interventions in food and incomes security targeting the most vulnerable individuals and groups.