Flood-hit women smile as they get a safe corner to feed their babies
Breastfeeding corners are a vital component of the child-friendly spaces in relief camps that UNICEF India has advocated with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority
NALBARI, India - Like many flood-affected villagers, Dulu Das lived in a relief camp for over a week when the UNICEF team visited on June 23 this year.
Although the food and drinking water facilities were adequate in the flood relief camp at Solmara Bazar Griha in the Nalbari district, Dulu had difficulty feeding her six-month-old daughter, Nilangshi Das.
Twenty-eight-year-old Dulu had to run from one place to another in the crowded relief camp to find a secluded spot to breastfeed her daughter.
"It was difficult to feed my daughter as the camp is crowded. There are people everywhere. Sometimes, I had to sit near my relatives and request them to cover me while I fed her. I am thankful that a breastfeeding corner has been set up in the camp now," said Dulu Das.
Dulu was not the only one who faced this problem. Many other mothers were finding it tough to breastfeed their babies comfortably.
Mrinal Das, the relief camp's supervisor, addressed Dulu's problem and a breastfeeding corner got set up in the centre. She recalled being under tremendous pressure with the magnitude of the flood in the second wave.
"A huge number of people came to the camp almost simultaneously, and our priority was to provide them with shelter and food."
Das immediately worked on setting up the breastfeeding corner in the Solmara Bazar Griha relief camp after a team from UNICEF visited to support the flood response. With UNICEF’s support, a breastfeeding corner was set up in the camp, providing a huge relief to Dulu and other mothers.
A two-storied pucca [permanent] building was turned into a relief camp for the flood-affected people and housed 1,189 individuals since June 14. The individuals belonged to 189 families, including 720 males, 360 females, and 109 children. An entire village of about 3,200 people currently reside in four relief camps set up by the District Administration.
Breastfeeding corners are a vital component of the child-friendly spaces in relief camps that UNICEF India has advocated with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, Government of Assam. The breastfeeding corners now feature in the official relief camp management Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
UNICEF has been working with the State Government from 2017 onwards to strengthen the relief camp management process. This includes assessing and analyzing the situation of women and children in the camps, adapting relevant SOPs for relief camps, piloting systemic innovations through model relief camps with child-friendly spaces, documenting the learning, and training the duty bearers based on the learning and on-site handholding.