With funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through the international NGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH), the project is being implemented by SEND Sierra Leone in partnership with ENFO (Energy for Opportunity). ENFO is responsible for the construction and rehabilitation of the PHUs equipped with WASH and solar energy facilities, while SEND Sierra Leone handles awareness-raising and capacity building measures in the areas of health, hygiene and nutrition in the catchment population. Both organisations are also implementing the same project in Kenema District, to improve health in the selected target areas.
The three year project, which is expected to be completed in December 2018, aims to contribute to a robust health system capable of preventing future epidemics and delivering better and safer health services to rural populations.
On Monday 21st November, 2016 one of the implementing organizations, SEND Sierra Leone, hosted a one day launching of the project and awareness raising workshop in Kailahun Town with stakeholders from the targeted communities. The stakeholders included Paramount Chiefs, District Council officials, Mammy Queens, women leaders, youth leaders, religious leaders, teachers and health workers, among others.
WHH’s Head of Programs responsible for monitoring the project, Maltida G. Helms, said they are excited to witness the launching of the project in Kailahun with the involvement of community stakeholders from the beneficiary towns.
“The stakeholders’ involvement is very important for the project to succeed,” said Maltida, adding that the launching workshop is to give the community people the opportunity to influence the project in a positive way.
In some towns and villages there are no PHUs, so people give their houses to the nurses, revealed Peter Mboyama, Field Officer SENd Sierra Leone. “Making health services accessible to these communities and the need for communities to support the project is therefore crucial,” said Peter.
District Health Sister (DHS1) at the DHMT Kailahun, Jattu Bernadette Sellu, said they are happy more than anyone else because they are responsible for the health of communities, describing the project as big and important. She said the DHMT was involved throughout the planning and selection of the chiefdoms that would benefit from the project.
“At some point we wanted to reject the project,” said Sister Sellu. “However, we advocated for some adjustment to be made to actually suit the needs of our communities.” She added that the project is a big relief for the DHMT and she pledged their fullest support to its successful completion.
Representing the Kailahun District Council, Councilor Saidu Wurie Jalloh said the project comes as a blessing especially against the background of the decade long war (1991-2001) and the recent Ebola outbreak (2014-2015), both of which severely affected the delivery of essential services to rural communities. He urged the stakeholders to ask questions so they would understand the project better, and admonished them to take ownership of the project by participating in its implementation and monitoring of the whole process.
“Community ownership ensures the sustainability of the project,” he said.
Considering the importance of access to water for the PHUs, the District Supervisor of the Ministry of Water Resources, James Biayemi, encouraged the implementing organisations to invite the ministry to give technical advice in that regard.
Also speaking at the workshop the President of Kailahun Women In Governance Network (KWIGN), also a Board Member of SEND Sierra Leone, Lucy C. F. Gondor, said they are the intermediaries between the organisation and the beneficiary communities. She said health issues are key to women, and therefore called on them to support the project and take it as their own.
Meanwhile, the workshop discussed key issues of the construction and rehabilitation work as well as awareness-raising exercises including hygiene and health, nutrition and relationship between the population and the health system. The participants suggested ways to involve community stakeholders for better impact and made recommendations to help SEND Sierra Leone and ENFO implement the project well.