Meeting Adolescent Girls at their point of Need Amid COVID19

The COVID 19 pandemic as with any crisis in a fragile state such as Somalia, has affected the availability of hygiene essentials of the often overlooked adolescent girls. Most of these girls live among the IDP community of Mogadishu and rely on free sanitary pads distributed at their schools or IDP camps by NGOs. However, limitations or reprioritization of donor funding means that the girls no longer have consistent access to these essential items.

“I used to get sanitary towels from my school in Kaxda. Now that supply is not available, I have to use pieces of cloth, which is very uncomfortable…I feel sad as I can’t do things normally, like household chores or sit down as I am afraid of soiling my clothes” reports 16-year-old Nuurto

Reusable sanitary pads distribution

NAPAD in partnership with DKH targeted 200 adolescent girls in Kaxda and Garasbaley camps, with a pack of reusable sanitary pads.

With an increased challenge of accessing food items in the market, or even get causal labour, my parents cannot afford stocking up on food as well as supplies like sanitary towels. The majority of families in my area will not consider sanitary towels as they are a luxury. That’s why we always depend on partners like NAPAD to supply to us such critically needed support,” Nuurto explains.

For Hawo 17, her concern is on adolescent girls who have irregular periods.

“…A number of us go through menstruation twice a month. Imagine how difficult the situation is for us. Before the intervention from NAPAD, I had no sanitary towels, it happens to all of us in the IDP camps. We have no choice but to use pieces of cloth… I was also surprised during the distribution that even mothers of the adolescent girls were desperate for them.”

Distribution centre

There is a need for more sanitary towels, not just in Garasbaley IDPs camp but in other IDP settlements and even in rural areas“. Yurub Abdi, NAPAD’s protection officer

COVID 19: Breaking Barriers to Behavior Change among IDPs

House to house hygeine promotion

Somalia is grappling with the implications of 2.6 million persons being internally displaced, and a huge percentage are located in Mogadishu and its environs. The outbreak of COVID-19 compounds the already fragile situation characterized by overpopulated IDP camps and little access to adequate water for good hygiene practices leaving the population highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation, and health education challenges the adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures such as frequent handwashing.

NAPAD in partnership with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe Somalia is supporting the internally displaced households within the IDP camps of Kaxda and Grasbaley IDPs in Mogadishu, who are at heightened risk of coronavirus transmission to improve their hygiene practices through improved access to water and aggressive hygiene promotion outreaches

NAPAD has installed handwashing stations in various health centers, such as the   Bulsha Bilan health center, in Kaxda IDP Camp, and at the Community Centre in Garasbaley IDPs center.  NAPAD has also ensured that there is regular water and soap supply at the handwashing stations.  

Handwashing facilities established at  Bulsha Bilan health center

This handwashing facility is extremely useful to us. Everyone coming into the health facility washes their hands using this machine with ease unlike before when we were using a 3-liter water container for handwashing…. this center receives more than 25 patients each day. The handwashing installation has helped raise hygiene standards in the health facility”.  Reports Hamdi Ali, a community health worker in charge of the Bulsha Bilan health center facility.

COVID 19 Hygiene promotion in a Health Center

Appropriate COVID 19 IPC and hygiene information promotion is another approach by NAPAD through intensified household and community risk communication and social mobilization activities in the camps. Ten hygiene educators drawn from Kaxda and Grasbaley were trained and facilitated by NAPAD to engage households on Covid-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the local language. The team, equipped with local language Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials has reached 2032 households in 18 IDP cluster segments with appropriate Covid-19 IPC mitigation measures messages

Hygiene promotion in camps

The hygiene promoters also curbed local myths and misconceptions that promoted misinformation of the infectious COVID 19 among the camp populations by providing relevant information approved by WHO and Ministry of Health Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

Hygiene promoters during camp outreaches

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN THE COVID-19 CONTEXT

In recent years, climate-related shocks, mainly drought and flooding, have increased in frequency and intensity, intensifying humanitarian needs and undermining resilience at the household and community levels.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille, a 45-year-old father of seven children who lives in Barwaaqo Village in Abduwaak district Somalia slowly proceeds to the Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) beneficiary registration centre. Like many families who are struggling to recover from recurrent calamities of drought over the past couple of years, life has not been easy for him and his family. His vulnerability has been heightened by his physical impairment which limits his ability to travel far and wide to access other forms of livelihoods.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille at the NAPAD UCT registration centre

A near-constant cycle of drought and conflict has forced my family to flee a number of times, surviving on the generosity of locals and support of relatives who offered food and other assistance. We barely have enough to live on. As a Person Living with Disabilities (PWD) this makes it even harder for me to carter for my family,” he continues.

To improve the food security of vulnerable communities in Abudwak, NAPAD with funding from Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) is implementing an eight-month project that will increase immediate access to food, protection of livestock assets, and diversification of livelihoods by this majorly pastoralist community.

In Barwaaqo village Abduwak district, NAPAD is conducting registration of beneficiaries for unconditional cash transfers (UCT). As opposed to previous years, the beneficiaries are moving in queues to maintain physical distancing as they eagerly wait to be served. Previously these exercises would typically be characterized by people in small crowds or seated next to each other catching up waiting to be served.

Things can not remain business as usual.

Fatuma Abdullahi
Beneficiaries waiting to be served at the registration center

“Things cannot remain business as usual, the pandemic has remodeled our operations as a humanitarian organization working in a fragile context. We have put in place measures to ensure social distancing especially in our community engagements,” Says Fatuma Abdullahi, a project Manager in NAPAD.

As Jamac waits to be served, he is optimistic that the cash transfer will provide food for his family.

Thanks to Allah, I was included in the programme as one of the people who will receive 124 USD per month for three months through Mobile money transfer. This will improve our lives. I will be able to buy food for my children.” says Jamac.

The project will see 200 IDPs in Abudwak, and 200 vulnerable host communities receive 124 USD in unconditional cash transfer for three months. The UCT will help cushion the already heavy burden of these IDP communities that has been aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic. NAPAD partnered with the local government to ensure the beneficiary selection process was inclusive to persons with disabilities like Jamac.