With South Sudan’s first post-independence elections slated for next December, there is pressing need for women to fully participate in decision-making.
However, years of unceasing conflict have affected women and young girls disproportionately, especially those who live in remote, rural areas such as Magwi in Eastern Equatoria state.
For many women here and in similar locations, political participation comes second to having appropriate health facilities.
To tackle this problem, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), uses a programme called Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), which are primarily small-scale, infrastructure-based interventions that address urgent public needs.
One recent project that, hopefully, will have a major impact on local women in Magwi boma [administrative division] is the recent handover of a new, fully equipped maternity ward, funded by the UN Peacekeeping mission.
“Earlier, we didn’t have separate facilities for newborns and adult patients,” reveals Adok Judith a resident of Magwi and a mother.
“The lack of space meant that new babies were exposed to contagions,” she explained further. “But thanks to this new construction which has nine rooms, we hope our children will get better care.”
The necessary upgrades to the primary health center in Magwi, run by the Catholic diocese, and visited by neighbouring communities regularly, is expected to make birthing an easier experience not only for expectant mothers but also their medical carers.
“We hope that this health facility will give women much-needed confidence, make deliveries safer and ensure midwives as well as nurses have adequate room to provide a good standard of healthcare,” averred Tito Awando, Team Leader of Protection, Transition and Reintegration at the UNMISS Field Office in the state.
In the past nine months, the center provided prenatal services to some 340 expecting mothers while conducting over 300 safe deliveries.
County Commissioner David Otto Remson is jubilant.
“The center stands as an excellent example of how, with a little help from international partners, we can provide essential services to women, the elderly, the disabled and, indeed to all community members,” said Mr. Remson.
“Only if people are healthy and well-informed will democracy and peace prevail,” he concluded.
This project was implemented by local partner, Community Needs Initiative (CNI), a national nongovernmental organization.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).