DRC: 3 million mosquito nets distributed in 20 days
Day after day, UNICEF works in the most difficult to access areas in order to reach the most vulnerable children and young people.
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Kasaï Province, a landlocked area in the centre of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is one of the poorest in the country. Already vulnerable, the recent conflicts and the mass arrival of Congolese nationals returning from Angola have exacerbated the extremely precarious situation. Over 4 in 10 children aged between 6 and 59 months suffer from malaria in Kasaï province, which has a negative impact on survival, but also on future development.
There is, however, a very simple and effective way to protect oneself from malaria: using an insecticide-treated mosquito net. In order to allow the children of Kasaï to grow up free from the threat of malaria, UNICEF has distributed almost 3 million mosquito nets with the support of the US Agency for International Development.
Over 20,000 community representatives from across the province have been mobilised; men, women and young people who maintain the link between the community and health services. With a large presence in their communities, the community representatives have enabled the distribution of 3 million mosquito nets in record time. The community representatives, who were gathered at each village into community awareness cells, started identifying households which were to benefit in August. The mosquito nets were then purchased in Copenhagen and exported to Kinshasa before being dispatched to different health centres across the Kasaï region. To be able to reach the most remote health centres, it was necessary to take roads destroyed by the torrential rains. Several bridges couldn’t bear such large weights, and it was necessary to use small vehicles to cross the rivers. To reach the final villages, they had to use motorbikes, bicycles and even porters…
Although the clashes between the regular armed forces and the militias have calmed, the security situation remains unstable. After deploying the mosquito nets, it was important to ensure the security of the people involved and the products. After having crossed rivers, rickety bridges, impassable roads and areas deserted due to safety concerns, millions of mosquito nets arrived in the different health centres, a few days before the launch of the distribution campaign. The community representatives then came to collect the mosquito nets and took them back to their villages. When distribution began, all the families had to do was come to collect their mosquito net from their village’s community representatives. Everything had been considered and prepared in advance: 1 mosquito net for a family consisting of 1 or 2 people, 2 mosquito nets for a family consisting of 3 to 4 people, 3 mosquito nets for a family consisting of 5 to 6 people, etc.
In 20 days, we managed to reach 900,000 families, despite logistical and security challenges.
We provided them with mosquito nets, but also with advice on how to improve their living environment. In Kasaï, families have lost lots of their possessions during conflicts or displacement, including their mosquito nets.
Now, the children of the Kasaï province can once again sleep protected from mosquitos and malaria.