Khartoum — A one-year health clinics project started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May is set to improve health services for at least 242,000 people in nine villages in East Jebel Marra, where humanitarian assistance became recently accessible.
Worth US$1.6 million, according to latest bi-weekly bulletin of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the project is co-funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund and WHO. Roughly 40 per cent entails rehabilitation and equipping of five health clinics, and support for four others. The remaining 60 per cent are provided by WHO towards purchasing medicines and medical supplies. All the clinics will be run for the duration of the project by the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) in partnership with the national NGO National Initiative Development Organisation (NIDO).
Located in South Darfur, the clinics are in Jawa, Feina, Jabra, Kidineer, Laiba, Taiba, Abo Hureira, Kiyora and Suru villages, where health services have been limited. The new and rehabilitated clinics are designed to provide in-patient treatment to severely malnourished children with medical complications. The clinic project includes value-added public health interventions such as outbreak investigation and community health promotion.
Belle El Seref health facility in East Jebel Marra, South Darfur (WHO, May 2018)
The clinics project directly benefits at least 221,000 patients, enabling access to medical treatment, case management, and essential medicines. Another 21,000 people are predicted to receive health promotion and advocacy services to enhance community best practice and communicable disease prevention. Health personnel at all nine clinics are scheduled for case management and surveillance training.
The project villages became newly accessible to humanitarian agencies during 2017, following the introduction in December 2016 of new directives for humanitarian action by the Government of Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). Despite their isolation, many clinics in East Jebel Marra remained operational throughout the years of conflict, albeit at a reduced capacity. In other parts of Darfur, challenges remain with regard to ensuring sustainable funding for maintaining the provision of consistent health services.
About 8,900 people displaced from East Jebel Marra, including 5,900 verified new IDPs
About 8,900 people were reportedly displaced starting from February following internal fighting between factions of an armed movement as well as clashes between state security forces and armed movements in parts of East and South Jebel Marra. This number includes 3,645 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Otash IDP camp near Nyala town and 2,279 new IDPs in Marshang IDP camps, as verified by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There are an additional 4,000 people who are yet to be verified in Kass and Belle El Sereif.
While a joint inter-agency team carried out a rapid needs assessment in Marshang locality, scope and gravity of needs assessments have not been possible in several other locations. In the meantime, a limited number of humanitarian actors have suspended activities in parts of East Jebel Marra due to the current security situation. And, on a separate but related note, ongoing fuel shortages - resulting in increased transportation costs for humanitarian supplies and personnel - continue to affect humanitarian operations.
Response in Otash IDP camp
Humanitarian organisations are responding to the needs of new IDPs from East Jebel Marra, who arrived in Otash IDP camp earlier this year in March, as well as the most displaced in April-May due to more recent fighting. Since February 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided 2,032 new IDPs with emergency food assistance via its general food distribution (GFD) and Emergency Blanket Supplementary Feeding Programme (eBSFP). An additional 1,600 people will receive food assistance next week. The international NGO World Vision International (WVI) with support from WFP distributed one-month rations of nutritional supplement plumpy-nut to 310 children in need. The distribution started in April and will continue for two months. New IDPs have access to integrated health services from WVI clinic in sector 13 of Otash camp. Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items (ES/NFI) sector partners have distributed NFI packages to 280 families (1,239 people) and another 385 families (1,552 people) will receive NFIs packages next week. An additional 210 households (854 people) verified by IOM will receive assistance shortly. Meanwhile, about 38 families (190 people) are awaiting IOM verification.
Inter-agency mission to Marshang
An inter-agency mission on 10 May led by the United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found out that about 470 families - of whom 85 per cent are women and children - fled to Marshang locality centre, from Rabkona, Suwannee and Feina villages in East Jebel Marra, following clashes in April between state security forces and non-state armed movements. The new IDPs reportedly lost household assets and livestock. Urgent assistance required includes: food, shelter, access to water, sanitation, and health services. The inter-agency mission was composed of United Nations partners, the United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), state ministries, the government's Water and Environmental Sanitation Department (WES) and the national non-governmental organization Jebel Marra Charity Organization (JMCO).
Following the recommendations by the inter-agency mission, IOM has registered and verified 2,279 new IDPs from East Jebel Marra in Marshang.
Following the IOM registration and verification, WFP is finalising the dispatch of emergency food aid to 2,279 new IDPs in Marshang. WVI nutrition teams have carried out a targeted Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screening among the new arrivals. A total number of 156 children under the age of five were screened for malnutrition, out of whom nine children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 17 children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) were identified and referred for treatment. The 2,279 new IDPs are yet to receive non-food assistance.
Meanwhile, fuel shortages are affecting the supply of food for the new IDPs. WFP said in its April Country Brief that the continued diesel fuel shortages across the country is impacting the transport market, making deliveries of commercial and humanitarian material more expensive and in many instances delaying arrivals to the interior of the country. In El Obeid, diesel shortages have had a negative impact on WFP operations and WFP was only able to dispatch 36 per cent of the planned in-kind food to Darfur.