Saving more than one life

In Chad, thanks to systematic HIV screening among malnourished children, families can hope for a better future

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In the Salamat region, Mariam, 22, sits out-of-sight inside a small office in the health center where she starts telling her story.

“Just a year ago, Ali, my 3-year-old son was admitted to the Nutrition Unit of this health center, he also had diarrhea and a lot of fever. Upon arrival, they screened him for HIV and someone came to tell me that my child was positive. I was really worried, where did this disease come from? I then voluntarily asked to be tested. My test was positive. I was scared but the nurses told me that if we take the medicines quickly, we could stay healthy.”

Mariam immediately thought about the health of her husband. “He had to be tested, I brought him to the health center. He was negative.” Édouard Gormo Lotouin, the head of the health center interrupts the conversation “I want to tell you how proud I am of Mariam, not only did she voluntarily get tested, but she also brought her husband. This is exactly the behavior we want from people who discover they have HIV.

Her husband’s reaction was also exemplary. “He said in front of me that he did not care how she caught this disease. She will always stay his wife and he will not abandon her. Despite the disease, they will live together.” adds Édouard Gormo Lotouin. Mariam nods and insists on the exemplary behavior of her husband. “Since that day, I have never felt any changes in the love that my husband bears me.”

Thanks to the systematic screening, when Mariam and Ali where admitted in the nutrition treatment unit, they received the appropriate antiretroviral treatment for HIV. “Since then, my son and I have been taking our medications regularly and we are in good health.”

Mariam was pregnant when she found that Ali and herself were HIV positive. ‘As soon as I was tested positive for HIV. The doctors explained to me that I could still give birth to a healthy child with some treatment. I finally had a daughter, Halimé, she is now a year old. She has been tested recently and she is negative.”

Mariam is confronted to the misconceptions on HIV in her community, which unfortunately leads people not to get tested. “People need to be tested and treated if they prove to be HIV positive. Since I take the medication I am well and I know it is the best solution but the people here are really unaware of this. I would like to share my experience with my community but it is difficult. I can only talk with the people who understand me.”

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Mariam stands in the door way of the health center hoping the best for Halimé and wishing that one day she will come out of the shadow to raise awareness in her community.

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UNICEF, with the support of its partners, has launched a plan to strengthen the national response to HIV. In the Guera, Batha and Salamat regions, the initiative to integrate systematic HIV screening among malnourished children in Ambulatory and Therapeutic Nutrition Unit has permitted to test the serology of 4,342 children out of 5,930 malnourished children admitted.

Soif d’avenir 

Au Tchad, améliorer l’accès à l’eau potable grâce à un téléphone mobile est maintenant possible

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Par Rodolphe Houlsonron

L’eau, c’est la vie dit-on. Cela est d’autant plus vrai, pour les communautés rurales de Yao dans le Batha. Près de 115.000 personnes, en majorité des femmes et des enfants souffrant d’un manque cruel d’eau potable, viennent de bénéficier de 139 points d’eau et d’assainissement grâce au financement de la Coopération Suisse au Tchad. Dans les communautés rurales de Yao au centre-Est du Tchad, les femmes n’ont plus besoin de parcourir quotidiennement des dizaines de kilomètres pour aller chercher de l’eau.

Saleh Sossal Attahir, âgé de 38 ans, fait partie du Comité de Gestion du Point d’Eau (CGPE) « AL-HAYA » (la vie) à Ambassatna. « Plusieurs projets dans le secteur de l’eau ont été mis en œuvre dans le Batha où plus de la moitié de la population boit de l’eau de mauvaise qualité. Par le passé, nous avions beaucoup de problème pour réparer les pompes en pannes. Certains points d’eau restaient abandonnés pendant des mois parce que les comités géraient mal l’argent qui devaient servir aux réparations. Notre comité à adhérer à l’Association de Ambassatna, qui gère 31 Comités de Gestion de Point d’eau CGPE et collecte les recettes de la vente de l’eau qui sont versées sur le compte Tigo Cash de l’association. »

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« Grâce au paiement par mobile avec TIGO-CASH, les fonds sont gérés avec transparence. Pour le mois d’avril seulement, nous avons pu faire réparer 3 pompes avec la collecte des fonds par transfert mobile, » ajoute Saleh Sossal Attahir.

Chaque comité a contribué à notre compte Tigo Cash et les fonds collectés ont été répartis pour les différentes dépenses comme la rémunération du fontainier, les frais de déplacement, les frais administratifs, les petites et grosses pannes, ou encore l’acquisition pour l’achat de nouvelles pompes.

Grâce au financement de la Coopération Suisse en partenariat avec l’UNICEF, plus de 140 forages mécanisés et équipés de pompes à motricité humaine ont été réalisées dans le district sanitaire de Yao.

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Aujourd’hui au Tchad, plus de 140 Comités de Gestion des Points d’Eau sont concernés par le système de paiement mobile qui permet d’améliorer la redevabilité des comités de gestion et d’assurer la continuité de la provision d’eau aux populations les plus vulnérables. Face aux changements climatiques, il est indispensable de faire appel aux innovations, notamment aux technologies mobiles pour accompagner les communautés à mieux gérer leurs ressources.

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L’UNICEF travaille activement avec ADRA, une ONG nationale pour la construction des points d’eau, des latrines, et la promotion des bonnes pratiques d’hygiène. Par ailleurs, l’Agence Panafricaine Eau et Assainissement pour l’Afrique (EAA) est en charge du renforcement de capacités des Comités de Gestion des Points d’Eau (CGPE). Dix Artisans Réparateurs ont également été formés pour assurer des travaux de maintenance des ouvrages en cas de panne ou de défaillance.

Clean water is a right for everyone

Partnering with communities to Support children’s access to clean water and basic toilets in the Sahel belt

UNICEF Chad/2017/Alliah“I learned that before and after eating, I have to wash my hands. I also learned that when we defecate outside and it rains, it goes into the wadi* and that’s how we got sick. Now we drink clean water from the pump. “ Mariam Djazouli, 11.

(*A dry and ephemeral riverbed that contains water only during rainy season)

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Alliah-LR-5.jpg“There were many people who got sick because of dirty water. We drank the same water as our animals. Ever since we have been drinking at the water point, it’s much better.” Zeleha Hatia (right), 8.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Alliah-LR-4.jpg“The new water point saves us a lot of time. It is closer and cleaner. We are raising awareness so families understand why this water is good for their health. Each household contributes with 500 FCFA a month ($0,85 US) for the maintenance of the water point.” Mahamat Abderahim, Chairman of the Water Point Management Committee.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Alliah-LR-2.jpg“In the wadi, I had to dig with my hands to get water underneath. Then, we used to pour it in a tanker for 24 hours so that the sand would fall to the bottom. Now in a few minutes we have clean water.” Sayire Said, 18 years and her child.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Alliah-LR-6.jpg“During the rainy season, there were a lot of cases of diarrhea because of open defecation. The new water point has really helped us to improve the hygiene in the health center. “ Ahmat Zaza, Head of the health center.

In 2016, thanks to the support of UN Human Security Funds, health and living conditions for populations in the East of Chad were improved through the provision of durable water, sanitation and hygiene services package. The project has also strengthened local capacity to manage and maintain water points and sanitation infrastructures.

Two drops in the desert

By Esther Shisoka

“Not all my children are completely vaccinated. Our constant movement from one place to another did not allow me to vaccinate my older children.” Nahissa is a 33 years old mother of 8 children. She currently lives in Amir nomadic camp in Mandelia in the Chari-Baguirmi region of Chad.

Nomadic populations of Chad are vulnerable to diseases because of their constant mobility which limits their access to healthcare services. Reaching them with routine immunization has proven difficult. This challenge has called for the need of innovative strategies to reach this marginalized group of the Chadian population.

“Four years ago our government started offering us vaccination services for our children, every time they came to vaccinate our animals. This is how I was able to completely vaccinate my two younger children.” Nahissa said, proudly.

Coupling of vaccination and veterinary campaigns has proven very successful to immunize hard-to reach communities. The implementation of several joint campaigns ensured a complete course of vaccination of children in one year only.

“ I lost one of my children because he fell ill and died. I don’t want to lose any others. The health agents who came to vaccinate our children explained to us that vaccines protect our children from certain diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio. This is why I have accepted to have my children vaccinated every time there is a polio campaign. Some members of the community are still skeptical about vaccines but I try to explain to them why it is important.”

Nahissa’s story hints to the solution for reaching marginalized nomadic children. Offering vaccination services linked to other health interventions like the distribution of vitamin A, selling of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and deworming and malaria treatments of children might be the best way of achieving equitable, sustainable, and high-coverage immunization for every child in Chad.

On March 25, the Ministry of Public Health, in close collaboration with UNICEF and WHO launched a new polio immunization campaign targeting 4.2 million children aged 0-5 years. In Chad, between 2010 and 2016, 51 polio immunization campaigns were organized to reach every child. In the vast territory of Chad, more than 5,000 social mobilizers and more than 25,000 vaccinators were involved in each national campaign More than 154 million doses of vaccines were used throughout the period.

The current vaccination campaign is part of a synchronized program in 13 African countries aiming to end polio on the continent. More than 190,000 vaccinators will vaccinate more than 116 million children to eradicate the disease in Africa.

Chad’s polio eradication efforts are made under the umbrella of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) enabling organizations on the ground such as UNICEF and WHO to effectively support the Government’s efforts. The European Union, the Governments of Japan, Canada and the United States, as well as global partners such as the US Fudnd, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, the Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) play a key role in financing polio eradication interventions.

Conflit au Lac Tchad : flux alarmant d’enfants impliqués dans les attaques de Boko Haram cette année – UNICEF

Pour regarder le contenu multimédia : http://bit.ly/2omPHaU

Pour lire le photo essay : https://medium.com/p/29bec0ce2af0

DAKAR/NEW YORK/GENÈVE, le 12 avril 2017 – Le nombre d’enfants utilisés dans des attentats-‘suicides’ dans le conflit au Lac Tchad a atteint 27 durant le 1er trimestre de 2017 comparativement à 9 pour la même période l’an dernier.

« Pendant les trois premiers mois de cette année, le nombre d’enfants utilisés dans des attaques-suicides est à peu près le même que celui de l’année passée toute entière. C’est la pire exploitation possible d’enfants dans des conflits. » déclare Marie-Pierre Poirier, Directrice Régionale de l’UNICEF pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et l’Afrique Centrale.

Selon le rapport, Honte silencieuse : Donnons la parole aux enfants pris en otage dans la crise du lac Tchad (Silent Shame : Bringing out the voices of children caught in the Lake Chad crisis – titre original du rapport en anglais), cette augmentation reflète la tactique alarmante des insurgés. À ce jour, depuis 2014, 117 enfants ont été utilisés dans des attentats-suicides dans des endroits publics au Nigeria, au Tchad, au Niger et au Cameroun : 4 en 2014, 56 en 2015, 30 en 2016 et 27 dans les 3 premiers mois de 2017. En grande majorité, ce sont des filles qui ont été utilisées lors de ces attaques.

En conséquence, des filles et des garçons et même des jeunes enfants, sont observés avec une peur grandissante dans les marchés et aux postes de contrôle où l’on craint qu’ils transportent des explosifs.

« Ces enfants sont des victimes et non des criminels » déclare Poirier. « Les forcer ou les conduire à commettre de tels actes est inacceptable. »

Publié 3 ans après l’enlèvement de plus de 200 écolières de Chibok, le rapport fait état de faits troublants restitués par des enfants retenus en captivité par Boko Haram et montre à quel point ces enfants sont traités avec suspicion lorsqu’ils retournent dans leurs communautés.

Lors d’interviews, plusieurs enfants qui avaient été associés à Boko Haram rapportent qu’ils préfèrent garder leur expérience secrète de peur d’être stigmatisés et même par peur de représailles violentes de la part de leur communauté. Certains sont obligés de porter les horreurs qu’ils ont vécues en silence et s’éloignent eux-mêmes de peur d’être rejetés et stigmatisés.

Le rapport souligne également les défis que les autorités locales rencontrent avec les enfants qui ont été arrêtés à des postes de contrôle et qui ont par la suite été emmenés dans des institutions de détention pour interrogations et investigations. En effet, le rapport soulève les problèmes liés aux longues périodes de détention des enfants. En 2016, environ 1 500 enfants étaient en détention dans les 4 pays et 592 enfants attendent toujours d’être libérés.

L’UNICEF appelle les parties prenant part au conflit à s’engager dans les actions suivantes pour la protection des enfants dans la région :

  • Cesser les violations graves perpétrées contre les enfants par Boko Haram, notamment le recrutement et l’utilisation d’enfants dans les conflits armés pour des attentats-suicides.
  • Faire passer les enfants d’un environnement militaire à un environnement civil le plus rapidement possible. Les enfants ayant été maintenus en détention uniquement sur la base d’allégations ou pour une réelle association à des groupes armés doivent immédiatement être remis aux autorités civiles pour réintégration et soutien. Des protocoles de transfert doivent être mis en place dans chacun des 4 pays pour les enfants trouvés lors des opérations militaires.
  • Assurer le soin et la protection des enfants séparés et non-accompagnés. Tous les enfants affectés par la crise ont besoin de soutien psychologique et d’endroits sûrs pour se remettre le mieux possible.

En 2016, l’UNICEF a soutenu psychologiquement 312 000 enfants au Nigeria, au Tchad, au Cameroun et au Niger, et a réuni plus de 800 enfants avec leurs familles.

L’UNICEF travaille avec les communautés et les familles pour lutter contre la stigmatisation des survivants de violence sexuelle et pour construire un environnement protecteur pour les anciens otages.

Dans une crise qui a déplacé plus de 1.3 million d’enfants, l’UNICEF appuie également les autorités locales en approvisionnement en eau potable et services de santé de base ; rétablit l’accès à l’éducation en créant des espaces temporaires d’apprentissage ; et administre un traitement thérapeutique aux enfants mal nourris.

La réponse à cette crise continue de manquer sévèrement de financements. L’an dernier, l’UNICEF a fait un appel de $154 million pour le Bassin du Lac Tchad mais ne fut financé qu’à 40%.

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Notes aux rédactions :

Le rapport, les photos et les vidéos sont disponible ici : http://uni.cf/2oVq4RF

À propos de l’UNICEF :

L’UNICEF fait la promotion des droits et du bien-être de chaque enfant, dans toutes ses actions. Nous travaillons dans 190 pays et territoires du monde entier avec nos partenaires pour faire de cet engagement une réalité, avec un effort particulier pour atteindre les enfants les plus vulnérables et marginalisés, dans l’intérêt de tous les enfants, où qu’ils soient.

Pour en savoir plus sur le travail d’UNICEF pour les enfants, visitez www.unicef.org

Suivez UNICEF sur Twitter ou Facebook

Pour plus d’informations ou pour des demandes d’entretien, veuillez contacter :

Patrick Rose, UNICEF West and Central Africa, +221 786 380 250 | prose@unicef.org

Joe English, UNICEF New York, + 1 917-893-0692 | jenglish@unicef.org

Maria Fernandez, UNICEF Tchad, tél,: +235 66 36 00 42,  mfernandez@unicef.org

A shot to live: Meningitis immunization in Chad

N’DJAMENA, February 27, 2017. Ahmad’s father smiles sadly while he tries to make his little boy stand still so that the nurse can give him a dose of trivalent meningitis vaccine.

“My son is afraid of the needle, but he will realize in a minute that it is nothing,” he says. ”I lost my younger sister two weeks ago. By no means do I want my son to suffer as she did.”

In 2011, a new meningitis outbreak was declared in Chad. In response the introduction of the new vaccine MenAfriVac, managed to dramatically reduce the impact of this terrible disease, saving many children lives.

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With the support of GAVI Alliance, the organization of four immunization phases covering the entire country resulted in the vaccination of 8,686,026 individuals. Since December 2012, there have been no cases of meningitis type A reported nationwide.

Toma Mamout, a community outreach volunteer, speaks to mothers about the importance of the meningitis vaccine. In nearby villages, she talks on vaccinations, basic hygiene and the use of mosquito nets to prevent malaria. “We advise mothers to bring their children to every vaccination drive and to stick to the calendar,” she says.

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Sensitization campaigns were organized at the community level to raise awareness about immunization activities and its importance to the population. As the vaccination campaign continued, social mobilization activities were conducted to inform the population about immunization and the risks of meningitis transmission. Local radio stations, social centres and religious and community leaders have been also engaged in outreach activities.

Radio is also essential to these efforts, reaching far more people than any other media in Chad. “Broadcasts and advertisements get people ready for the vaccination campaigns. Families quickly understand the need to vaccinate their children,” mentions Editor in Chief of the community radio station in Mongo Djimet Khamis Zaouri.

 

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Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the central nervous system. While some forms are mild, it is a potentially serious condition owing to the proximity of the inflammation to the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can lead to brain damage, deafness or death if untreated.

Vaccination is an effective, low-cost public health intervention that significantly reduces infant mortality. Nevertheless, in Chad, the percentage of children fully immunized during their first year of life is estimated at 25%.

UNICEF’s future efforts will focus on surveillance, evaluation and promotion of immunization efforts, continue support for the ongoing preparation of the introduction of Meningitis vaccine in routine immunization in 2017, of thus providing critical continued support to the fight against meningitis

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Rewriting the future for every child in danger

The support of the Swedish Development Agency is essential to provide humanitarian assistance to children living in conflict zones in Chad.

N’Djamena, February 25, 2017. “We are nomads. We were living outside Malam Fatori in Niger when our camp was attacked. 18 people got killed. The gunshots woke me up, it was early in the morning and people start running away. I took a camel and ran away watching behind. My father told me to start screaming if I saw any danger.”  Tahar Mohamed, 8, is a Chadian returnee from Niger. He recalls the night he fled Boko Haram attack on his nomadic camp.

The first night I slept on a tree, I was too scared. After some days, I was too tired and hungry to walk, especially with these slippers. We could not take any food or items. My mother could only take a cooking pot with her. After three days walking, we arrived in a village and she sold it in exchange of some cooked rice. That’s the only time we had something to eat”.

Tahar Mohamed, 8 is now living in Darnaim Returnee site where he can access safe drinking water and education for the first time in his life. “I want to be a football player. I’m still young and I play very well. I want to play for Chad’s National team. The problem is that there is no football training centre in Chad,” he explains.

Swedish Development Aid Agency has supported UNICF Chad with a 652 000 000 grant (6,000,000 Swedish Krona) that was mainly used for programme support enabling our teams to assist these children and families in need. The funds provided by SIDA where alloca

For Hafsa Haroun, 16, life has not been easy either. She used to live in Baga, Nigeria, before the village was torched by Boko Haram. “I had a normal life. I would go to school the morning and help out at home in the afternoon. The day of the attack, my mother got killed. I did not see it but my brother told me she got shot. My uncle was also injured. He almost lost his left leg. He suffered a lot, but he is strong,” he states, while describing what happened after the attack. “People around him cried a lot, but we were just silent. In my family everyone left separately, we were just trying to save our lives and we could not stay altogether. It took us more than a month to get back together at the camp in Chad”.

Today, Hafsa goes back to school in Daresalam refugee camp in Chad and she has great ambitions for her future. “I want to become a nurse. I’m not afraid of needles or blood. I just need some training, I don’t think it’s that complicated to find work, there will always be sick people to heal,” she says with hope.

In 2016, UNICEF worked tirelessly to provide an integrated and comprehensive response to recurrent and multiple humanitarian crises. UNICEF and its partners delivered humanitarian assistance through local authorities, communities and organizations to provide aid in hard-to-reach areas while also building local capacity to respond to emergencies.

The Swedish Development Aid Agency has supported UNICEF Chad with a US$ 652 000 000 grant (6,000,000 Swedish Krona) for Programme Support under the Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC 2016). This funding enabled our teams to assist these children and families in need in regards to Chad humanitarian response.

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For Every Child in need, relief

40 000 children have received treatment for malnutrition in the Sahel belt of Chad thanks to UNICEF UK support

« I did not know what to do when Amir got sick. A neighbour gave me a traditional medicine made of ash and roots, but I called my husband and he told me to go to the health centre directly. I was right to trust the doctors, he’s much better now.” Salma Safia, Amir’s mother, is 17 and lives in the remote village of Andour, in the Sahel Belt of Chad.

“His father left a few months ago. They say there is gold up north so he went there and is working in mines. Since then, life has become difficult for us. When Amir got sick we went to the health centre nearby and they took us straightaway to the hospital with an ambulance. He could not sit, eat or sleep when we arrived here. It’s been only two days, but he’s feeling much better already,  » she says, smiling.

Thanks to the support of the United Kingdom UNICEF National Committee, UNICEF has provided life-saving assistance to affected children and strengthened the capacity of health facilities to deliver quality nutrition services. The provision of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food has also contributed to reduce malnutrition-related mortality and morbidity in children under five years of age.

Refugees in the East have also been reached

For Every Child in Hunger . 40 000 children treated for malnutrition in the Sahel belt of Chad thanks to UNICEF UK support

Zouha Issa, 7, and her sister Amina, 17 months, were born from Sudanese refugees parents living in the Mile Refugee camp in Eastern Chad where 382,500 refugees are still living in harsh conditions. Recently, Zouhas’s sister, Amina, was treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition with Medical complications. She’s now feeling better and Zouha can play with her sister again.

“When Amina got sick, the doctor of the health centre called an ambulance to take us to the hospital. It was the first time I was in a car. Unfortunately, the car got stuck in the water – it was the rainy season. It took us one day to get to the hospital,” Zouha explains.

“After a few days, she started feeling better. They gave her many medicines and milk. She took some weight and she stopped crying all the time. Now we’re back home, we have breakfast together and I can play with her again,” she concludes.

Thanks to the UK National Committee contribution of US$ 135,533.63 and additional resources mobilized, UNICEF Chad has been able to provide the much needed support to the Ministry of Health to scale up the management of severe acute malnutrition. Additionally, this support made it possible to purchase and distribution of over 1,900 cartons of Ready-to-use-therapeutic food which have helped to provide timely and quality treatment to children suffering from SAM.

Over 43,557 children have been treated in the target regions of Ouaddaï, Wadi Fira and Hadjer Lamis in 2016. Furthermore, 31 health professionals were trained on management of SAM while more than 50,000 mothers and caregivers benefited from the community mobilization and sensitization campaigns.

 

In Chad, water means hope

N’Djamena, February 27, 2017. Water is the source of life for all humans and the source of hope for millions of children in Chad. Yet, in this Sahel country, only half of the population has access to safe drinking water.

Fatimé Abderamane, a mother of 3 children, lives in the village Koubou Assikhel, in the district of Yao, Central Chad. This district has one of the lowest rates of access to water and sanitation services. However, despite the challenges, change is possible. In 2016, UNICEF supported various programmes to provide safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and promote hygiene for the survival, growth and development of children.

“Before the construction of water points, we used to walk for three hours to get water from the pastoral well. And we had to wait for hours, the time the farmers end up watering their herd. The quality of this water was not really good and my children got frequently sick and faced frequent diarrhea,” Fatime said. “With those new water points which are close to our home, many of our problems have been solved. Girls can go to school on time and women have more time to care for their children,” she adds.

Marthe lives in Ramadja, a nearby village. The new water point in the village has changed the life of this 16-year-old girl. “Sometimes I tend to compare  the water of the traditional well with the recently installed pump. The difference is striking,” she explains smiling. “Since we started to drink the new water, none of us has been sick at home. It’s a great change in our daily lives,“ she adds.

Chad has one of the lowest rates of access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the world. While access to safe water and sanitation is improving in urban areas, far too many children in rural areas are at risk of contracting water and sanitation-related diseases.

In 2016, UNICEF and its partners targeted regions in need of greater support and developed various projects to reduce the prevalence of diarrheal diseases by improving access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, together with awareness raising on hygiene.

Water points have already been constructed across the country and the Community-led Total sanitation (CLTS), which was piloted in hundreds of villages. CLTS shifts the focus from construction of toilets and trying to change the behaviour of individuals to investing in community mobilization to trigger collective action and communal commitment to becoming open defecation free.

Thanks to the generous contributions of its donors, UNICEF and partners have focused on delivering continued programming interventions while building capacity at the local level to reach the most vulnerable population in need of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) services. For every child #WaterSanitationHygiene.

 

Two drops for a good start in life

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It is an important day for Hawa and Adam, new-born twins. Tradition says that children are to be baptised and therefore, given a name, on the seventh day after their birth. And the day has arrived for these new-borns.

In the middle of the laughs and clapping, we stand here, with a special gift on our hands. Out of coincidence, we witnessed this ceremony the day we visited the village with the polio vaccination team.

Hawa and Adam are lucky babies. Their mother Gamoussou has never spared efforts for the health of her children. “All my children are vaccinated, even the older ones” she told us with a smile, “including my oldest child who is now 17.” A practice that is quite exceptional in that respect, since, only 25% of children in Chad are fully immunised.

Two drops, this simple life-saving gesture, is indeed not always common, and even more so among the hard-to-reach families, who very often do not have access to vaccination and information on vaccination. Gamousso, for example, used to travel all the way to the health center of Tongole, which is 15 km far away from her village – a more than 2 hours trip with pirogue – for healthcare when she was living in Djaluwa, one of the islands of the Lake.

In recent years, with the conflict in Lake Chad and the subsequent insecurity and widespread displacement, access to some communities has been even more difficult. The polio outbreak in 2016 in the Borno state of the bordering Nigeria has however reminded of the upmost importance of immunizing all children, starting especially with those in humanitarian and displacement contexts.

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Gamoussou, 37 and her twins who have just received their very first drops against polio. Bol, Lake Chad

Gamousso, who fled the threats of Boko Haram and is now living in Dabantchali on the shore of Lake Chad, recognized that vaccination has never been as easy as today with the door-to-door visit of the immunization team. The Chadian Government has indeed put in all the efforts to keep a Chad polio-free for all groups and populations.

In close collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, the Ministry of Health has organized 5 polio immunization campaigns since the beginning of the year, mobilizing more than 8,000 social mobilizers and 16,000 vaccinators. More than 4.4 million children under 5 have been immunized.

With campaigns making sure that nomads, refugees and displaced communities are not left behind, knowledge and attitudes are progressively changing, giving us hope that soon new-born ceremonies, as the one of Hawa and Adam today, will be more and more a celebration of healthy practices to give babies the best start in life.

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In 2017, the Ministry of Public Health, in close collaboration with UNICEF and WHO launched 5 polio immunization campaigns targeting 4.2 million children aged 0-5 years.

The current vaccination campaign is part of a synchronized programme in 13 African countries aiming to end polio in the continent. More than 190,000 vaccinators will vaccinate more than 116 million children to eradicate the disease in Africa.

Chad’s polio eradication efforts are made under the umbrella of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) enabling organizations on the ground such as UNICEF and WHO to effectively support the Government’s efforts. The European Union, the Governments of Japan, Canada and the United States, as well as global partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, the Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) play a key role in financing polio eradication interventions.

Ex-Boko Haram abductees bringing clean water to their communities

In the Lake Chad region, 1 in 3 people do not have access to safe drinking water. The crisis in the Lake Chad region has caused a massive displacement, with 1.3 million uprooted children who face a complex humanitarian situation.  

A new CERF-sponsored project aimed at responding to sanitation needs in communities has brought hope for some of the youth touched by violence while tackling protection and economic empowerment in an innovative way. 100 young people are now learning how to build 1,500 bio-sand filters that will benefit 11,000 community members. The group is also learning how to fix water points, make soap and build latrines in order to improve the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) indicators in this region.

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji

Among the trainees, there are four children abducted by Boko Haram who managed to escape. They are now starting a new life, like Amin Sani*, 17. “Overnight, my brother in law disappeared, joined Boko Haram and started harassing me. He was calling me on the phone all the time ordering me to join Boko Haram and threatening me. He told me that I would make money, that my mother was a sinner, and that I should join him in the fight, “remembers Amin.

“I was afraid that they would come to grab me. I took my stuff and left to my uncle’s place in Niger. On the way, I found some Boko Haram fighters. They detained me in an unknown forest and threatened me. From the first day, I was thinking of how I could escape. It took me 18 months, but I made it safe to the Chadian border,” he remembers.

UNICEF took care of Amin once released by the authorities. Like other 500 children who managed to escape from Boko Haram, he was taken to a transition center before being reunited with his family after a period of transition.

“During my time at the transition centre, I did a training in water pumps repair. When the water point in my village was broken, I helped the technician to fix it and made some money. Now I am learning how to make water filters and I am very proud to install these filters in the communities,” explains proudly Amin. “I have been sick because of dirty water so many times. If people drink clean water it will help a lot. I would like to work in the water sector, fixing water pumps, and build filters myself, even better ones,” he concludes smiling.

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji

With the improvement of the security situation in some of the islands of the Lake Chad, displaced populations are starting to come back. The quality of the water in these islands is very low and over 80% of the population practice open defecation. Water-borne diseases are widespread, putting these areas at high risk of cholera epidemics.

On one hand, this training will help Amin and other trainees to hope for a brighter future. On the other hand, bio-sand filters will help cutting the number of diarrhea cases in half by eliminating 90% of the microbes. In Chad, diarrhea is one of the leading cause of death among children.

Providing clean water is therefore critical in reducing child mortality. The new CERF-sponsored project aims to respond to the immediate needs of the population in terms of access to clean water and promotion of good hygiene practices.

It also integrates protection through WASH activities by providing opportunities to youth abducted by Boko Haram with skills development in order to support them with income generation revenue activities. The main objective is to develop confidence and self-esteem among these young people affected by the Boko Haram conflict and support WASH sector locally.

*Name was changed

 

Breastfeeding, the best start in life for every child

By Azoura Diguera

This World Breastfeeding Week, observed from 1 to 7 August 2017, UNICEF Chad and its partners join hands to highlight the importance of breastfeeding for every child. On this occasion, meet 5 superwomen who are providing their children with the healthiest start in life.

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« Bachar is my 4th child and he is healthy because my milk contains essential vitamins for his well-being. I do take my time to breastfeed him because he needs this to grow up healthy”. Achta Alkhali, 26 and Bachar, 3 months. Ati.

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« During breastfeeding, my son tickles and plays but it is a wonderful feeling that I recommend to any new mom. I like watching him jiggling while in my arms as that means he really enjoys my milk » Kande Kaneram, 23 years old and Abdou, 1 year. Displaced people Site of Kadoulou, Lake Chad region”.

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« My husband was supportive and encouraged me to breastfeed my first child. Unfortunately, he died 3 days after I gave birth to my second baby. I have tried to overcome the loss and continued breastfeeding my baby girl. I really enjoy it and think it is important to share.” Fatime Adiya, 22 years old and Jemima, 2 months. Mayo Kebbi region.

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« My son loves his mother’s milk, so he always closes his eyes when he drinks it. I can feel he is very joyful and I can assure you this is one of the positive effects of breastfeeding, » Halime Hassan, 20 years old and Abakar, 6 months. Bouguirmi island, Lake Chad region.

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« I was told that with breastfeeding, mothers share elements of their immune system, which provides babies with a protective umbrella. Also, by breastfeeding my son, I pass on my intelligence because I know that breastfeeding increases the I.Q of a baby by 3 to 4 points”. Victorine Kanimbaye, 18 years old, and Elvis, 4 months. Moundou

According to the 2016 SMART study, only 7,3 % of breastfeeding mothers are practicing exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months. This represents only 79,134 women among a population of 1,084,632.

Children younger than 6 months old who are breastfed exclusively for longer periods have lower rates of infectious disease and death than children who are breastfed for shorter periods or who are not breastfed.

The benefits of breastfeeding for children and their mothers have the power to improve a country’s prosperity with lower health care costs. Yet, breastfeeding is not just a one-woman job. It requires encouragement and support from skilled counsellors, family members, health care providers, and decision-makers.