UNICEF and partners bring an integrated response to displaced families
Tiébissou, Côte d’Ivoire, 10 March, 2011 - Thérèse Konan, 55 year old retired certified teacher, is affectionately called "Maman Thérèse".
Under normal circumstances, 8 people call her place home. Her large family compound also hosts the "Maquis la Détente", a eatery where, for an affordable price, one can enjoy grilled fish and attiékè, a typical dish of Côte d’Ivoire.
Today, "Maman Thérèse" is hosting 99 extended family members.
Her aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews nieces and the Chief of Yaakro village, are put up here, while waiting for the situation to become more secure. Altogether, 1,279 people have found shelter here in 23 host families, as an aftermath of clash of rival forces of the two presidents of Côte d’Ivoire.
"Daily life is getting very tough because of the number of mouths to feed. Each one of the 22 adult women is working hard to bring something to eat. We received a few gifts, some rice, some corn but things are tough."
From the backyard comes sounds of mortars, as the younger women pound yams for the only meal of the day, which will be accompanied by a vegetable sauce.
A roughly tested solidarity
She is the Head of Socio-Cultural Services, in charge of Human Promotion, at the Tiébissou City Council.
And she adds that "behind every working person, there are now at least 30 mouths to feed."
Amongst the 65 children living in Maman Thérèse’s family compound, 5 of them, including 2 girls, are already registered in school and will take the First School Living Certificate exam this year.
All of them have received a school kit. Konan Konan Cédric, a 14 year old shy young man cannot contain his joy as he presents his UNICEF branded bag with notebooks, pens, pencils, and an eraser.
"Before, when I did not have a schoolbag, it was hard to keep my suppliers together", he says.
However, 132 out of the 296 displaced children from Yaakro still remain at home.
"We have also received mats, buckets, trash cans, and hygiene kits for women. Informative talks were organized by the ASAPSU (Association for the Support of Urban Self Health Promotion) NGO, aiming to bring awareness on HIV/AIDS and how to protect ourselves against sexual violence and abuse", explained Maman Thérèse.
While stepping up its humanitarian efforts in Tiebissou, UNICEF and WHO supported a grassroots vaccination campaign.
Therefore, young women like Kouakou A. Germaine, were vaccinated against maternal and neonatal tetanus.
Her 9 month old son, Kouassi Kouadjo Ivan, received the vaccines against yellow fever, measles, in addition to a dose of vitamin A.
In Tiébissou, 4,500 children under five years were vaccinated against preventable diseases. The host families identified the access to latrines and an occupation for children remaining at home as some of the most pressing needs to be quickly worked out by UNICEF and its partners.
As for latrines, UNICEF, who has already trained 5 members of the ASAPSU NGO, is planning for the next coming days to equip host families, such as Maman Thérèse’s, with an extra latrine.
Regarding the occupation of the children, UNICEF and its partners are advocating, both at the national and the local level, for all displaced children to be enrolled in schools.
"At the same time, we need to continue to plea with the aim that the 800,000 children who have not yet resumed schooling in Côte d’Ivoire can go back to school. For the right to education is recognized both in times of peace and in a situation of crisis", reminded Dr Agostino Paganini, the UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.
By Gisèle Langue Menye