European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) saving children from measles, providing clean water
By Charles-Martin Jjuuko
On a morning with clear skies, Akech Kuol Mabior, a respected mother amongst her peers, walks briskly to the borehole that stands 30 metres from her small house.
After about 15 minutes in the queue, she draws water into a 20-litre jerrycan and walks back to her house to wash utensils and prepare a hot meal for the family.
Meanwhile, her six children happily play under a big tree several metres away.
Akech, 36, had until recently lived in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country.
She is also one of 22,000 South Sudanese refugees who now live in the Nyumanzi refugee settlement north of Adjumani town in northern Uganda after having fled armed conflict in their young country in late 2013 and early 2014.
One of Aketch’s earliest challenges was coping with a measles outbreak that threatened the lives of her children and all children in Nyumanzi and host communities.
“We were worried about our children falling sick,” she says.
But, thanks to funding from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Action and Civil Protection (ECHO), Akech’s children were among the 34,000 children that benefited from a major UNICEF measles and polio vaccination campaign in the districts of Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandongo.
“During the recent influx of refugees to Adjumani district, we established immunization points at the Dzaipi and Nyumanzi transits to urgently immunize all refugee children against measles or polio” says UNICEF’s Jacob Opiyo.
Clean water supply
However, for Akech and her family, the mass immunization was just the start of support she received from ECHO and UNICEF.
In her settlement, Nyumanzi, she and all other refugees now have access to safe water as a result of 30 new boreholes drilled by UNICEF with financial support from ECHO and other donors.
“Before these boreholes existed, we were suffering. Our children were suffering and were prone to infections because we could not keep them clean most of the time,” she solemnly says.
Her enthusiasm picking up, she happily asserts, “right now, we have access to clean water and we can keep our little children and homes clean.”
“UNICEF has sunk 30 very successful boreholes,” notes Collin Latigo, the District Water Officer for Adjumani district. “We are very happy and grateful for this funding from the European Union.”