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Guided by the Core Commitment for Children, UNICEF Chad strives for the realization of child rights in Chad. Women and children under 18 years old, who represent 57% of the total population of 11 million, have been particularly affected by the political instability and structural socioeconomic weaknesses that Chad has suffered since its independence. In addition, Chad has taken in refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic, and hosts numerous internally displaced people. The country is also vulnerable to extreme weather events (partly because of climate change), particularly droughts and floods, which already represent a threat to the survival of the most vulnerable and marginalized children and women. Nevertheless, Chad is currently forging a new political stability both within and beyond its borders. This new context allows the government and its partners to launch the early recovery process and to plan longer-term investments in development. Moreover, increased government revenues, fed by oil revenue, are offering the opportunity to allocate additional resources to the country’s social sectors. To contribute to the realization of child rights in this complex context, UNICEF Chad concentrates its efforts on the following focus areas: - Child Survival and Development - Basic Education and Gender Equality - Child Protection - Strategic Communication: External Relations & Communication for Development (C4D) - Social Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation - Humanitarian Action and Emergency Response

Two drops for a good start in life

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji

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.

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji
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.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Azoura

« 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.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Azoura

« 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”.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Azoura

« 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.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Azoura

« 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.

UNICEF-Chad-2017-Azoura

« 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.