Posts tagged as: unicef

Nigeria:Cholera – Unicef, Borno Govt Create Hand Washing Points in IDP Camps

By Abdulkareem Haruna

The Borno state ministry of water resources and the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF on Monday jointly launched hand washing points for children displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency, within schools.

The initiative is part moves to curb the cases of cholera that have so claimed the lives of 59 children in camps for displaced persons.

At an occasion staged to mark the 2017 Global Hand Washing Day celebration, which was held in one of the IDP camps in Maiduguri, UNICEF’s Field Officer for Borno state, Geoffery Ijumba said the initiative was aimed at preventing the outbreak of the disease especially amongst the children.

He said washing of hands with water and soap “has saved many people from contracting water borne diseases.”

He said the 59 lives lost as a result of the disease could have been prevented.

Mr. Ijumba said washing of hands must be done with soap and water hence UNICEF’s action of creating such washing points.

“The combination of water and soap to wash hands has saved many lives of people living in rural and urban centres of Borno state.

“You go out there to find hand pumps. Where the pumps are not working properly, we have provided solar-powered pumps. When these pumps are not working properly, we have motorized them with electric powered-pumps.”

He said this was to make sure that there is water to wash hands on a continual basis.

The Borno State commissioner of water resources, Zainab Gimba, said the Borno state government is making efforts to ensure the availability of water in all the IDP camps through the drilling of boreholes.

“There is no way we could be talking of hand washing if there are no water sources in the camps”, she said.

She said the daily pumping of about 47 million litres of water from the town’s main dam has played a great role in reducing cholera, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

“Effective and lifesaving mechanism like regular hand washing is rarely practised; and (this) must be encouraged in homes, schools, hospitals, markets and

public gatherings, where people eat during festivities and marriage and naming ceremonies.”

She said the state government now is targeting “70 per cent of houses and 100 per cent of schools with hygiene sanitation facilities by the 2025.”

The highpoint of the event was the official launching of the hand washing points by the Secretary to the Borno state government, Usman Jidda Shuwa, who represented the state governor, Kashim Shettima.

About 3000 cases of cholera were recently recorded in the IDP camps while 59 persons, mostly children, died of the disease.


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Nigeria: Unicef Wants 4 Weeks Paid Paternity Leave in Nigeria


A physiotherapist plays with his 22-month-old son outside their residence (file photo).

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday recommended six months paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave to ensure healthy development of young children.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Mohammed Fall disclosed this at the National Early Childhood Development conference (ECD) in Abuja with the theme; “Investing early in Nigerian children”.

Fall also recommended two years pre-primary education, adding that the policies will afford parents time and resources needed to support their young children’s healthy development.

He said that Nigeria currently has three months paid maternity leave, only one year free pre- education and no paternity leave.

The representative emphasised that based on the 2016 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, the key indicators of child development remain low in ally.

Fall says, “Only about 40 per cent of children within the ages of 36 to 59 months are attending an organised early childhood education programme, while more than 31 per cent of children under the age of five are moderately and severely underweight.

“Yet research in the Lancet series 2016 shows that early childhood education programme is a foundation for health, productivity, learning and social cohesion”.

Fall noted that the conference was aimed at creating awareness on the meaning and importance of the early years of a child from conception to five years in early childhood nutrition, education and development.

“Nigeria is putting its children at risk of underdeveloped both physically and mentally because critical national policies are not providing an adequate foundation for their growth.

“During the first one year of a child’s life the brain grows rapidly.

“Providing good nutrition, loving care and appropriate play provide solid foundation for child’s learning and eventual contribution to economic and social growth.

“Early Childhood Development includes physical and cognitive support has a strategic place in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS).

“Investing in ECD includes services to support caregivers, quality pre-primary education and good nutrition will help to secure healthy and productive future generations in Nigeria,” Fall said.

“Supporting exclusive breastfeeding, having good ECD policies in place will help to improve the overall health of a child, enable parents and care givers to be more responsive to children’s needs and provide greater safety and security,” he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the conference was the inauguration of UNICEF report on Early Moments Matter for Early Child.


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Sierra Leone: Mobile Money Sent to Hundreds of Families Hit By Sierra Leone Mudslide

By Kieran Guilbert

Dakar — Aid agencies hope that these cash transfers mean families will not be forced to take their children out of school or sell their assets in order to ensure they have enough food to eat

Money is being sent via mobile phone to hundreds of families who survived a deadly mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown last month, the United Nations said on Friday.

At least 500 people were killed and more than 3,000 left homeless when a mountainside collapsed mid-August in the town of Regent – in one of Africa’s deadliest mudslides in decades.

The mobile cash payments, which are being funded by Britain’s aid department, will help about 1,900 households hit by the mudslide to pay for needs from education and food to healthcare, and to enable them to resettle in safer areas.

“I am pleased that … we are able to give money directly to those affected so they can decide what is best to meet their immediate needs and take steps to rebuild their lives,” said Guy Warrington, the British high commissioner in Sierra Leone.

The U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) has given mobile phones to the heads of households so they can receive their payments – which will total about $200 (150 pounds) over three months.

Those who choose to resettle elsewhere will receive an additional payment of $300 (220 pounds) and food vouchers from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), according to U.N. agencies.

Aid agencies hope that these cash transfers mean families will not be forced to take their children out of school or sell their assets in order to ensure they have enough food to eat.

The WFP said it is distributing rations of rice, beans, vegetable oil and salt to the affected households.

“Families have suffered, lives have been lost and property destroyed through these unprecedented disasters,” said Hamid El Bashir Ibrahim, UNICEF’s representative in Sierra Leone.

“The cash transfers could be a great relief … as they will provide a lifeline,” Ibrahim said in a statement.

The country of 6 million people is one of the poorest in the world and was ravaged by West Africa’s 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, which killed about 4,000 people in the former British colony.

(1 British pound = $1.3565)

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

This Costs Just Cents and Could Prevent Half-a-Million Children From Going Blind

The substance is critical in pregnancy and in the development of children; a lack of it has dire consequences.

At first Grace Mwatathe was not too worried. Yes, in the twilight she did struggle to tell which was her goat to milk, even though it was only a herd of five. And in the evening she could no longer find her cooking utensils by the light of her lantern.

Maybe it was her pregnancy playing tricks with her mind, Mwatathe thought. Or perhaps it was an effect of the heat as the drought slowly strangled the life out of animals and plants; not only in Matsanjeni village, but in the whole of the coastal Kilifi county in southeast Kenya.

But, as her nightly trips to the pit latrine increased in the weeks before she was due to give birth, she realised she was in serious trouble – she would wander off course and trip over objects as she could no longer see anything in the dark.

Fearing for her unborn child’s safety, Mwatathe visited the local clinic. There a doctor diagnosed her with maternal night blindness and explained that her inability to see normally after dusk or at night was caused by a deficiency in vitamin A.

It can be found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach as well as in orange and yellow vegetables and fruit, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and mangoes. Liver, kidney, milk, cheese, cream and butter are also rich sources of the vitamin.

The main cause of for a vitamin A deficiency is malnutrition.

Although the vitamin is generally essential for good health – it is involved in the growth of all cells – the need for it is particularly critical during periods of rapid growth and early childhood, as explained in a 2001 study in the peer-reviewed academic journal Food and Nutrition Bulletin.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, the researchers write, because of its important roles in vision, reproduction, growth and the immune system.

In pregnant women, vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness and often also increases the risk of a mother dying while giving birth, or shortly thereafter, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from a shortage of the vitamin in the third trimester of pregnancy when the nutritional demands of the developing fetus and the mother are the highest.

The WHO does not recommend routine vitamin A supplements for pregnant women, unless there is a severe public health problem relating to a deficiency in their country, and then only in low doses.

Vitamin A deficiency becomes a public health problem when more than 1% of school children and 5% or more of pregnant women have xerophthalmia (abnormally dry eyes), which can develop into vitamin A-related night blindness, a 2009 study in the Journal of Ophthalmic Epidemiology found.

Times of scarcity set their sights on mothers, babies

The WHO says that pregnant women should try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rather than opt for vitamin A supplements.

But that was far beyond Mwatathe’s means. “I could hardly afford a meal, let alone a balanced diet,” she shrugs.

Kilifi county is one of Kenya’s farming areas that has been so hard hit by three seasons of low rainfall that the government declared a drought emergency in February. The cost of food has skyrocketed as the drought decimated cattle and goats and successive crops failed.

Mwatathe believes it was inevitable that she would become ill. It was the effect of her poor diet on her baby’s health that worried her more than her own wellbeing, especially after the doctor explained that her breast milk might not contain enough vitamin A for the baby to thrive after birth.

For children, a lack of vitamin A leads to severe visual impairment and blindness: it is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide, says the WHO. It also causes anaemia and raises the risk of disease and death from common childhood illnesses such as measles and diarrhoea.

The organisation estimates up to half-a-million children who lack vitamin A become blind every year. Half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight. In many African countries, where nearly 50% of children between the ages of six months and five years are affected, vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem.

Since her son’s birth nine months ago, Mwatathe has been checking him for signs of illness. Although she has not noticed any problems with his eyesight, physical growth or cognitive abilities, she has brought him to her clinic. Here she has been waiting patiently in a long queue, the gurgling baby strapped tightly on her back.

“I don’t want to take chances,” she says. “My baby isn’t ill, but I have brought him for a vitamin A supplement, just in case.”

What’s the price of good eye sight? Just a few cents it turns out

Giving children supplements make them more resistant to disease and reduces the chances of them dying by about 23%, according to Unicef data.

The supplements are normally given in the form of either a syrup or a soft gelatin capsule.

One dose between six and 11 months and thereafter two each year until a child is five are needed to prevent vitamin A-related diseases, including blindness.

The WHO, however, stresses that eating a diet that includes foods rich in vitamin A is the first choice.

Some countries fortify staple food by adding minerals and vitamins to products such as maize and wheat flour or rice.

But, until these programmes have been widely implemented, Unicef says, vitamin A supplementation programmes are crucial to ensure child survival. And at just two American cents a supplement dosage, it comes cheaply, the World Bank points out.

Studies show that more than 80 countries worldwide have implemented vitamin A supplementation programmes for children under five.

School-based programmes no cure-all

In 2007, the Kenyan government started its Malezi Bora (Good Nurturing) initiative, which includes vitamin A supplementation, immunisation and growth monitoring. The food security and nutrition policy followed in 2012 and the Nutrition Action Plan 2012-2017.

But 84% of children in Kenya under the age of five still lack vitamin A, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2014. The country’s demographic and health survey 2014 found routine coverage was less than 50%, much lower than the WHO recommendation of 80%. Only about a quarter of children under five received two high doses of vitamin A supplements in 2015.

One of the greatest challenges for providing vitamin A supplements has been finding the right mechanism to get it to younger children, a Unicef report on vitamin supplementation shows.

Until last year, vitamin A supplements were provided through schools, which meant children under five, who are most vulnerable to the effects of vitamin A deficiency, were not being reached.

Kenya’s ministry of health and three international nongovernmental organisations are running a mass drug administration programme to bridge this gap.

Called Every Child Thrives, the four-year project in the sub-counties of Kilifi and Siaya was launched last year by the international aid organisation, Medical Assistance Programmes International, Effect Hope and Vitamin Angels, with funding from the Canadian government.

The programme addresses intestinal worm infections, which cause and can aggravate malnutrition and anaemia, in addition to vitamin A.

“Intestinal worms contribute to vitamin A deficiency and exacerbate malnutrition and anaemia,” explains Jane Muller from Effect Hope.

Children under five get deworming medicines and a vitamin A supplement every six months at health facilities such as clinics, early childhood development centres and in community outreach programmes.

Julien Ake, a senior technical adviser at Effect Hope, adds that the education of parents and children’s guardians will play a crucial role.

“Our goal is to see parents increase their demand for supplementation of vitamin A and deworming for their children and ensure that the demand is met 100%,” says Ake.

Mwatathe needs little encouragement. Her experience with night blindness is still fresh. As she slowly shuffles to the front of the snaking clinic queue, she says: “I do not want my child to go through what I did if I can get the medicine here.”

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Poor Rains Deepen Drought, Children Go Hungry – UNICEF

By Sebastien Malo

New York — Kenya has been ravaged by what the United Nations calls the worst drought since the 2011 Horn of Africa food crisis that led to famine in parts of Somalia

The number of children in need of life-saving aid continues to grow in Kenya amid one of most punishing droughts in years and another disappointing rainy season, the United Nations’ children agency said on Friday.

With crops failing and livestock producing too little milk, nearly 370,000 children across the East African country aren’t getting enough to eat, an increase of 30,000 from February, UNICEF said.

Kenya, despite having the highest per capita income in the region, has been ravaged by what the United Nations calls the worst drought since the 2011 Horn of Africa food crisis that led to famine in parts of Somalia.

Kenya’s northern Turkana and Marsabit counties, home to pastoralist communities, have been hardest hit, with one in three children there acutely malnourished.

UNICEF, which is giving aid to the Kenyan government to overcome the effects of the drought, said hunger was spreading faster than its humanitarian assistance.

“We have reached 60 percent more children with life-saving assistance in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016, yet more and more children are becoming malnourished,” said Werner Schultink, UNICEF’s representative in Kenya, in a statement.

The deepening crisis is largely due to another disappointing rainy season, the third since early 2016, UNICEF said.

And the already dire situation is compounded by a nationwide nurses’ strike, it said.

Now in its third month, the strike over poor pay has led to patients being sent away from some hospitals.

UNICEF called for more resources not only to keep children healthy and nourished, but also tackle knock-on effects of the food crisis, such as children being pulled out of school as their families flee the drought and others being sent to work.

“We need to make nutritious food, safe water and basic health care far more accessible to vulnerable children and families,” said Schultink.

Nationwide, nearly one in five people in Kenya, or 9 million people, are undernourished, according to a report on the state of nutrition worldwide which the United Nations released on Friday in Rome.

Kenya has lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast to 5.5 percent due to drought and political uncertainty, a top official said on Friday.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

Mother Leaves Three-Day Child to Peddle Drugs

By Daily News Reporter in Zanzibar

A NEW mother is in custody in Pemba after she was nabbed with 3,621 pellets of heroin, estimated at over 7m/-.

North Pemba Regional Police Commander (RPC) Shekhan Mohamed Shekhan said the woman, Zuhura Ahmed Ali, 29, who has recently gave birth to a newborn, was arrested at Mbuguani area on her way from Mkoani port in South Pemba to Wete, North Pemba.

Mr Shekhan told the ‘Daily News’ by phone from Chake-chake that the Police was carrying out investigation before the accused is arraigned. He revealed that the arrested woman hid the heroine under her Islamic black dress veil also known as burqa, which covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground and it is the most concealing of all Islamic veils, but criminals have been using it to hide drugs or arms, tarnishing the image of the respected religious dress.

“Police officer who was nearby just greeted her, but in response she panicked, prompting the officer to get closer to her, and checked, only finding the heroine,” the RPC said as he called on members of the public to join hands against drugs in Pemba, by exposing people engaged in the illegal business.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) said preliminary findings indicates that the suspected drugs trafficker is an experienced woman who dared to leave her three-day old infant to go for the drugs.

He said the biological sister to the suspect also deals with selling of cannabis (bhang) drugs, suggesting that the home in Wete was known as drugs dealers, as the RPC vowed to pounce on the network.

He also said that a man identified as Haji Balozi Hassan, 35, was arrested yesterday with 241 pellets with suspected cannabis, which he was transporting from Mkaoni Port to Micheweni in the North. The suspect will be arraigned upon test findings from the Chief Chemist.


Ex-Unicef Project Coordinator Arraigned

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Tanzania: Muhimbili Launches Initiative to Guide Visitors, Curb ‘Fake Doctors’

By By Syriacus Buguzi

As the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) expands by putting up more complex infrastructure, patients and relatives of patients flocking to the facility may face trouble locating where to get the services and at times falling prey to the so-called fake doctors who cash in on people’s ignorance and despair.

But that may no longer be a concern as the hospital authorities decided from Monday onwards that they would now use ushers, dressed in jackets labeled ‘ask me,’ to attend to visitors arriving at MNH for various services or patients seeking healthcare.

The ushers in jackets with reflectors, will now guide patients and other visitors to locations where they can get the survives they want and on time, the hospitals’ Senior Public Relations Officer, Mr Aminiel Algaesha told The Citizen.

He said it was initially quite confusing for people to identify which facility to go, as the Muhimbili premises accommodate other bigger institutions such as the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) and the Muhimbili Uninversity of Health and Allied Sciences(Muhas).

“Quite often, our clients end up in the hands of ‘crooks’ when they arrive at this facility. This is part of the bigger initiative to make our services easily accessible. From now on, a person arriving at MNH can easily get an official person to show directions,” he told The Citizen in an interview on Tuesday, 12th September.

Read The Citizen: Fake doctor nabbed at Muhimbili National Hospital

MNH, with a bed capacity of 1,500, attends to between 1,000 and 1,200 outpatients per day, admitting between 1,000 and 1,200 per week, according to the hospital’s website,


Ex-Unicef Project Coordinator Arraigned

FORMER Coordinator of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-funded project Lawrensia Massawe was arraigned here… Read more »

Nigeria: Cholera Outbreak Threatens More Than 1 Million People in Refugee Camps

By Kieran Guilbert

London — The disease, which spreads through contaminated food and drinking water, causes diarrhea, nausea and vomiting

At least 1.4 million people uprooted by Boko Haram’s insurgency in northeast Nigeria are living in ‘cholera hotspots’, prey to an outbreak of the deadly disease which is sweeping through camps for the displaced, the United Nations said on Thursday.

An estimated 28 people have died from cholera in the conflict-hit region, while about 837 are suspected to have been infected with the disease, including at least 145 children under the age of five, said the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF).

The outbreak was first identified last week in the Muna Garage camp in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, which is the heart of jihadist group Boko Haram’s brutal eight-year campaign to carve out an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.

About 1.8 million people have abandoned their homes because of violence or food shortages, U.N. agencies say, and many live in camps for the displaced throughout northeast Nigeria.

Several aid agencies last month told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that Nigeria’s rainy season could spread disease in already unsanitary displacement camps, and 350,000 uprooted children aged under five are at risk of cholera, UNICEF said.

“Cholera is difficult for young children to withstand at any time, but becomes a crisis for survival when their resilience is already weakened by malnutrition, malaria and other waterborne diseases,” UNICEF’s Pernille Ironside said in a statement.

“Cholera is one more threat amongst many that children in northeast Nigeria are battling today in order to survive,” added Ironside, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nigeria.

UNICEF said aid agencies have set up a cholera treatment centre at the Muna Garage camp, chlorinated water in camps and host communities to curb the outbreak, and mobilised volunteers and local leaders to refer suspected cases to health facilities.

The disease, which spreads through contaminated food and drinking water, causes diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It can kill within hours if left untreated, but most patients recover if treated promptly with oral rehydration salts.

The latest figures represent a 3.3 percent fatality rate – well above the 1 percent rate that the World Health Organization rates as an emergency. The short incubation period of two hours to five days means the disease can spread with explosive speed.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict with Boko Haram, at least 2.2 million have been displaced, and 5.2 million in the northeast are short of food, with tens of thousands living in famine-like conditions, U.N. figures show.

Writing By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

Nigeria: Resident Doctors Threaten Strike As Kogi Doctors Reject 50%

By Ayodamola Owoseye


The National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, has debunked the claims that association has suspended its plans to go on strike.

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, had said the doctors suspended the strike after a meeting between officials of the NARD, the minister and officials of the ministry of health.

However, the Osogbo chairman of NARD, Folarin Olarewaju, said rather, the association will hold an emergency executive committee meeting on Sunday, where a decision will be made.


Gumel Local Government Council of Jigawa has resolved to carry out fumigation to rid the area of mosquitos as part of malaria control.

The Information Officer of the council, Sulaiman Usman, explained that the fumigation would be conducted in residential areas, markets, schools and strategic locations, to rid communities of mosquito breeding spots.

He added that the exercise was poised to control malaria and enhance good healthcare delivery at the grassroots by destroying the mosquito lava and to reduce the spread of malaria in the council.


The Bauchi State government has concluded plans to establish functional blood banks in all the 27 general hospitals in the state.

Abdul’Aziz Manga, Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Hospitals Management Boards, said the plan was to reduce the death of mothers and newborns resulting from lack of blood in hospitals.

The plan is to have a functional and standardised blood bank in the general hospitals, including some of the health facilities at the primary health care level and also encourage relations of beneficiaries to donated as a means of steady supplies.


The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Kogi State chapter, rejected the payment of 50 per cent salary to her members by the state government.

The NMA state chairman, Godwin Tijani, expressed displeasure with the payment of half salary to her members and therefore outrightly rejected it.

Mr. Tijani, while pleading with his members to stay claim while the issue is resolved with the government, said NMA was not invited to the meeting held between the state government and labour leaders where it was purportedly agreed that 50 per cent would be paid to workers.


A hospital worker leaked a startling video recorded from inside an operation theatre of a hospital in India where doctors carrying out a C-section were fighting.

The video recorded by one of the staff at the Umaid Hospital in Jodhpur district showed the doctors engaged in a verbal brawl as a patient undergoing emergency C-section lay sedated between them.

The newborn reportedly died because of the negligence of the doctors. By the time the baby was delivered, it did not survive long before it finally died as the fight lasted 30 minutes.


More Nigerians are likely to go blind if the federal government does not increase its funding of the health sector, a group of ophthalmologists has said.

The group also said that the rising cases of eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma have impacted negatively on the individual’s economy, the family and the society at large.

The president of the group, Sebastian Nwosu, during the 42nd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Society held in Kaduna State blamed the rate of blindness in Nigeria on the lack of adequate funding by government and inadequate manpower in the health sector.


Seven million Nigerians are currently suffering from stress and depression, says medical experts.

Olabode Shabi, Chairman of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, (SFPN) Ekiti Zone, said depression was a common mental health problem that affects 29 million persons in Africa, out of an estimated 322 million people currently affected worldwide.

He identified major causes of stress as work related, such as ambiguity in the job schedule of workers, career development pressure, poor working environment, lack of job security, fear of redundancy and early retirement.


The Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east destroyed no less than 75 per cent of the water and sanitation infrastructure in the geo-political zone, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said.

Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, stated this at the commencement of the World Water Week. He also said that 3.6 million people lacked water in the area.


Some stakeholders in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector called on all tiers of government to design policies to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management, MHM.

They asserted that the promotion of MHM is a ‘human right issue and an effective planning and programmes to promote MHM will go a long way to improve lives of women and girls in the country.

Moustapha Niang, a Water Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, specialist with UNICEF, said erasing the myths and misconceptions about menstruation will promote better outcomes for an inclusive society for women and girls.

New Deal to Boost Productivity of Mothers Working in Tea Plantations

By Emmanuel Ntirenganya

Mothers working in tea plantations are receiving a timely boost that will see them be more productive and their children getting better care.

The boost is a result of a new project by UNICEF and the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) designed to guarantee children linked to the tea industry their right to a healthy life.

There have been cases of children working in tea plantations or mothers who are unable to fully care for or properly feed their children due to the nature of their work in the tea industry.

The deal will also see early childhood development centres (ECDCs) established close to tea plantations and factories.

NAEB’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Sandrine Urujeni, said that the Government of Rwanda cherishes children and the fact that children have inalienable right to safety and love.

The Government has also committed to ensure children receive the opportunities they need to enable them succeed in life irrespective of the economic conditions of their parents.

According to the Integrated Livelihood Conditions Survey (EICV4) carried out in 2013/2014, children working in non-hazardous child labour represented 3.4 per cent of all children (aged between 6 and 17).

Among children in child labour, only 2.1 percent were engaged in the worst form of child labour (or working in hazardous conditions).

A recent assessment carried out by UNICEF in February 2017, to understand women and children situation recommended need for more efforts to improve working conditions of employees, especially women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and the need for proper child care.

“Expected results from the partnership [Unicef-NAEB] is to improve efficiency and effectiveness of tea workers especially women, as it is assumed that there will be increased tea picking and production, which will ultimately boost the growth of agricultural sector and contribute to the economy,” Urujeni said during the partnership agreement signing ceremony earlier this week.

UNICEF representative to Rwanda Ted Maly, said that the partnership with NAEB focuses on technical support, whereby UNICEF will bring expertise and train players in the tea sector on improving the welfare of children and mothers.

“Stunting is high in tea growing areas. Addressing stunting and ensuring good nutrition is among the high priorities of the government of Rwanda. Our interventions will give much attention to efforts geared to leveraging our expertise and ensuring good nutrition among children and mothers,” he Maly.

Current progress and challenges ahead

Through the partnership between NAEB and tea factories, out of 15 factories operating in the country, 13 have been certified by Rain Forest Alliance, while of 19 tea cooperatives, 17 have got such certification. Such a certification is given to a company only if no children are employed in its tea production.

The Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA), NAEB, Tea Farmers’ Federation (FERWACOTHE), and REACH-T project, which intended to take children out of tea plantations, withdrew around 2,700 children and reintegrated them into formal schools between 2014 and 2016.

Only two factories – SORWATHE and Mata – have sponsored the establishment of Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDCs) whereby, every day, these factories provide porridge to children, and parents pay individuals who look after their children while they are working in tea plantations.

Jotham Majyalibu, Chairman of Rwanda Tea Association – an organization that brings together tea growing cooperatives and tea factories, told The New Times that the association wants to expand the ECDC model so that children of people engaged in tea production, get quality care and grow in a more conducive environment.

“We have managed to eradicate child labour in tea factories’ tea blocks. What remains as a challenge that this partnership will help address is the mentality of parents who still employ children in their individuals tea farms,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of National Children Commission (NCC), Dr. Claudine Uwera Kanyamanza said that “As about 60 percent of women work in tea sector, and are still giving birth, ECDCs are important because they will help women be motivated to come to work as their children will be cared for,” she said pointing out that tea factories should ensure that those who supply and work for them, enjoy healthy lives.

Tea is grown in 12 districts of the 30 districts in the country.

Tea exports generated more than $74.5 million (about Rwf63.3 billion) in the fiscal year that ended June 2017, up from to $70.8 million in the previous fiscal year.

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