UNICEF Somalia Review - Feb 1998
'Somaliland' President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal paid a three-week visit to Ethiopia, Italy, France and Djibouti. In an interview with the local press and BBC Somali section, Mr. Egal said he held talks with a French petroleum company, ELF, which is to carry out petroleum exploration in 'Somaliland'.
The exchange rate of the 'Somaliland' shilling to the dollar was 3,300 to 1 during the reporting period.
On 14 February, 1998, the UNICEF National Project Officer (NPO) for Health and Nutrition, Dr. Pirkko Heinonen, visited Hargeisa and held discussions with UNICEF staff on the health/nutrition programme.
In addition, several meetings were held between UNICEF health and nutrition staff and Ministry of Health and Labour (MOHL) officials. The meetings discussed the Health Strategic Development Framework developed by MOHL in collaboration with UNICEF and implementation of pilot activities in Gebilay district including the introduction of community financing and co-management of health services.
UNICEF staff made a supervisory visit to Sheikh mother and child health/out-patient dispensary (MCH/OPD) facility and the newly-rehabilitated maternity ward at Burao Hospital. The staff met the Mayor of Sheikh, community elders and health workers.
Other visits by health staff were made to health facilities in Hargeisa, Horohadley, Adadley and Hudisa. In the latter three places, MOHL and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC)/ Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) have sponsored the establishment of new MCH centres/OPDs.
During the first two weeks of the month, UNICEF held several meetings with the regional health authorities of Sanaag, Togdheer and Awdal regions to discuss the expanded programme on immunization (EPI) implementation strategy for 1998. The meetings also discussed efforts required to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of existing routine immunization services at the MCH centres and the supplementary immunization activities required for polio eradication, neo-anatal tetanus and measles control.
Pre-registration activities in preparation for immunization of children under five years of age started in Erigavo, Badhan, El-Afweine and Dahar towns of Sanaag region on 3 February and continued up to 7 February 1998. Some 2,790 children under the age of five years were registered from the four towns in the region.
Focus group meetings for 15 traditional birth attendants (TBAs) were held at Hawlwadag MCH centre of Hargeisa. The purpose of the focus group meetings was to obtain information regarding the attitudes and practices of the TBAs towards breast-feeding. Similar meetings with religious leaders and women of different ages are planned. UNICEF staff met senior officials of MOHL to discuss the strategies and 1998 plan of action for the UNICEF-supported nutrition programme in the zone.
As part of Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) activities, some 800 vent pipes were provided for construction of latrines in Sheikh Nur displaced persons'/returnees' area in Hargeisa by UNICEF in collaboration with the Danish Refugee Council.Improvement of Borama water supply is still going on. However, progress is hampered by lack of pumps and generator sets ordered last year.
As part of the School Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, rehabilitation of the pilot school sanitation project in Borama is nearly complete. Construction of sanitation units for Haraf, Malko and Arabsiyo schools has been completed.
As part of monitoring and supervisory activities, UNICEF WES staff carried out five visits to WES project locations. Projects visited included Odweine Borama, Yirowe, Burao and Sool. The WES section carried out an assessment of hand-pumps and sanitation facilities in seven villages along the road between Hargeisa and Berbera and Haraf Village.
Social mobilisation, cleaning and chlorination campaigns were launched in Borama and Odweine towns respectively.
A workshop on reviewal of the primary education curriculum was convened in Hargeisa from 14 to 16 February, 1998. The workshop was part of a major initiative in which UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MOEYS) and UNESCO is reviewing the current primary education curriculum. The workshop was attended by participants from a wide spectrum of the community: policy makers, educationists, religious leaders, elders and representatives from development agencies. The participants will form the steering committee for the overall curriculum review process.
The workshop was opened by the Vice-President of 'Somaliland', Dahir Riyaale, who emphasised the need for reviewal of the curriculum. He urged the participants to devote time and effort to this initiative.
Prior to the opening of the workshop, the Vice President opened the newly established Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). The Centre is based at a recently-rehabilitated former primary school.
The programme communication and social mobilisation (PCSM) section carried out advocacy activities as part of the preparation for the International Women's Day (8 March) and the World Water Day (22 March). The aim is to utilise the days as communication/social mobilisation vehicles for the UNICEF programmes. UNICEF PCSM staff met women's groups in Hargeisa and agreed on a common approach to International Women's Day and World Water Day.
Kismayo Office - Southern Zone
The southern zone continues to suffer from the aftermath of the devastating floods that took place between October and December 1998. Upstream in Gedo, the level of the Jubba river has dropped considerably.
Little rains were reported in the zone in February. It is expected that the next rainy season will be soon forthcoming. Some of the communities previously affected by floods such as those in Marerey are unwilling to return/resettle.
In other areas, the local communities are busy rebuilding their destroyed homes and reviving their fields. As the flood waters recede, farmers have been planting crops .
Some roads in the zone are now passable. A tractor made its way in the first week from Kismayo to Dhobley via Bilis Qoqani. The road from Sakow to Bu'ale and Hagar is now open. Local traffic around Kismayo is now possible as the roads are dry. The road to Mogadishu is also open, but the conflict between rival clans hampers its use.
In Gedo, Bu'ale and Sakow, local roads are open and traffic to Mogadishu has resumed. Roads in Gedo are open but the threat of landmines is ever present.
Travel by UNICEF international staff to Kismayo was restricted in February. The UNICEF office continued operations under the guidance of local staff.
Some security-related incidents took place in the zone particularly in the Lower Jubba districts. Some militia shot at WFP boats and agency staff in the field but no casualties were recorded. Several clashes also occurred around Kismayo and resulted in several casualties among the different militia.
Malaria remains the main killer disease in the zone. Essential anti-malarial drugs were delivered from UNICEF and WHO stocks and were widely distributed.
Health and nutrition activities continued to focus on outbreak prevention; the provision of essential drugs to communities throughout the zone; and, the provision of nutrition supplementation to malnourished children.
Anti-malarial and other essential drugs were distributed to communities in Bardera, Dinsor, Bu'ale, Sakow, Jamame, Marerey, Bula Hawa, Garbahare, Burdubo, and Jilib districts. EPI outreach was also simultaneously carried out in all of the above districts with the exception of Beled Hawa. Trocaire NGO and UNICEF health staff collaborated in the development of a draft health project agreement which focuses on primary health care, including EPI outreach throughout Bula Hawa and Dolo Districts. In Bardera, EPI services were resumed to outlying villages for the first time in four years.
Preliminary repairs were done to Jamame cold chain (vaccine storage facility) through Muslim Aid-UK. An assessment of the condition of the flood-damaged cold chain and generator in Afmadow was also completed. Extensive repairs will be required in several other locations due to lack of maintenance. Despite the generous support from UNICEF Kenya, attempts to establish a temporary system for providing partners with vaccines from Garissa, Kenya, given the availability of flights from there, proved unsuccessful. Supplies will instead be provided from Bardera/Nairobi utilising the United Nations Common Air Services (UNCAS) Somalia.
Cost-sharing was initiated at the Bardera Hospital and out-patient dispensaries. Payments for consultations/hospitalisation and labaratory tests are now being levied on patients.
Nutritional support was provided to malnourished children by the provision of Supermix supplementary feeding supplies from UNICEF in Kismayo, Bu'ale, Salagle, Bula Hawa and Bardera. Staff from the Regional Health Board-supported Nutrition Centre in Kismayo made regular assessments in the displaced persons' camps in Kismayo, referring children to the Nutrition Centre or the MSF-Belgium therapeutic Feeding Centre. Discussions were intiated with the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) regarding the possible expansion of EPI and other primary health care activities in Luuq district.
Difficulties were encountered in transporting health and other supplies from Kismayo by air and road. Challenges to effective communication continue with frequent staff movements and lack of communication equipment in some locations. Health/EPI statistics for the month were not available as no programme staff were available in Kismayo to compile them.
The nutrition programme in Kismayo continues to serve more than 1,500 mother and child health centre//OPD-referred malnourished children through the Regional Health Board (RHB) with UNICEF support.
On-going nutrition support to malnourished children has provided weekly nutrition supplementation (Supermix) to children in the following localities: Bardera 250, Salagle 200, Bula Hawa 600, Bu'ale 70 and Kismayo more than 1,500. Nutrition partners in the zone are: RHB, World Vision International (WVI), Swedish Church Relief (RHB), Bardera Health Committee and Memisa NGO.
The UNICEF Kismayo WES section has completed an assessment of the water supply and sanitation needs in all districts in the zone. UNICEF signed an agreement with a local drilling firm for the rehabilitation of the Jamame borehole.
Cholera cases were recorded in several locations in the zone. Two cases were confirmed in Luuq by AMREF. Social mobilisation for cholera awareness and prevention was carried out by UNICEF teams in several locations: Kismayo, Jamame, Marerey, Sakow, Bu'ale, Bardera and Beled Hawo.
Chlorine supplies were distributed by UNICEF field teams. WES technicians were involved in the training of community workers in well and household-water chlorination. Chlorination campaigns took place in Bardera, Jamame and Marerey.
The UNICEF Kismayo Education Project Officer visited districts in the zone to assess damage caused by floods to primary schools. UNICEF signed an agreement with Trocaire NGO to support their education programme in Dolo and Beled Hawo districts. A new agreement was initiated with InterSoS NGO to support seven primary schools and 30 new school initiatives in Bardera district as part of a new project part-financed by the European Union.
For further information on UNICEF Somalia you can access our website which also contains a link on the Somalia Flood Emergency of 1997. Please visit the website at the following address: http://www.unicef.unon.org/SOMALIA/
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ROBERT KIHARA, ASSISTANT REPORTS OFFICER, UNICEF SOMALIA. TEL +254-2-623950. FAX +254-2-520640/623965 E-Mail: Robert.Kihara@unicef.unon.org