By Ndidi Chukwu
Barka and his wife with three children recently arrived Abuja and are able to locate the famous Kuchingoro IDP location housing thousands of displaced persons from the Northeast Nigeria. He finally decided to leave Yobe State after a horrific experience in a recent raid by insurgency in his community after he and his family managed to escape the attack. He has three children and had interacted with Health Reporters while constructing his 10 by 10 room, with the help of his wife who holds the planks for him to do the nailing.
In the current whether situation, the floor of the room is bare, on a wet sand after the rains is where Barka, his wife and three young children below seven years will live and sleep till the time they will decide to go back to Yobe State to reclaim their home after the insurgency abates.
On questions about the safety of the children in such a housing plan, Barka said, “I don’t think anywhere is safer than what we have now, I believe life in FCT is safer after my experience in my state”
The IDPs in Area 1, Kuchingoro, many are only concerned about peace, as they are left with no choice but to imbibe acceptance of one another and good communal relationship, most of the families eat together and share everything including food items available to them.
One greatest challenge facing these displaced persons in the unavailability of good health care, water, toilets to maintain proper sanitation. Open defecation is prevalent amongst them; they have their baths in the open, and cook their meal in the same environment.
With thousands amongst them being children and pregnant women, cholera outbreak could be disastrous. A nearby river about two kilometres away from the camp is where some of the children below five years have their births and women fetch from it to do home chores as well. Although the FCT Administration has made a borehole available to them, some would still make their way to the river when the water from the borehole stops flowing.
Through the help of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), some pregnant women have been helped through antenatal care and delivery. The PPFN as part of its voluntary intervention to save mothers and babies is providing education on family planning, making access to family planning commodities easier to the women desiring such help. It also has a working relationship with the only nearby clinic, a police clinic to help the women through deliveries.
Samson Ayuba 26 years old student from Bama Borno State said he had to flee Bama with his wife “My wife is pregnant and we are living in difficult situation , if you look at where we are living now you see it is a difficult situation, when rain comes it is difficult for us to sleep on the floor, with the rain flowing through the room and my wife is pregnant, I am worried she doesn’t catch cold, we have not been able to cook because of the rain yesterday”
Samson’s wife is among the women registered in the Area 1 Police clinic and could access antenatal care, he said the free antenatal care available to them has reduced his worries about his wife’s welfare and is hopeful that the baby will be delivered safely.
“I am pregnant I have noticed that I experience a sharp pain on my lower abdomen, but I will not be so worried about it because on my next antenatal clinic I will tell the midwife about it” Said Samson’s wife, but her husband Samson needs a job in Abuja to be able to feed the pregnant wife and send the wife back to school after delivery.
Unlike Samson, Ruphus Isa and his wife, Jumai Ruphus, already have 57 days old baby they named Hashifa “we have been in this camp since seven months, we returned from Cameroon to Abuja, Jumai has her baby at home with the help of a nurse from the Area 1 police clinic where she completed her antenatal visits” Ruphus told Health Reporters
Questions on why she had to have her baby at home, returned with smiles she admitted that she was afraid of giving birth at home even with the help of the nurse, she said “I was afraid, because it was my first baby” her intense look into her babies face could suggest the mother-daughter bond being created. Jumai’s 57 days old baby looks healthy surviving on only breast milk from her 19 years old mother who told Health Reporters that she has learnt of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and will try it, but is worried of what to eat to be able to complete the six months exclusive breastfeeding for Hashifa.
Amina Muhammad’s was saved from death, there were complications in her pregnancy, and she could not have a normal birth but required an operation said she “I am grateful to aunty Habiba, a PPFN worker, who helped me through the time of delivery, when I went to the hospital the nurse said my baby is not coming out well and they will do operation I called aunty Habiba and they all came and paid the doctors before my baby was delivered” now Amina has her baby, named Aisha in the 10 by 10 sack-bagged house made by her husband to live in. She, like other displaced persons rely on gift items from volunteers to survive.
PPFN educates the IDPs on the dangers of having too many children that will be difficult to cater for, Dr. Jennifer Briama, said sharing information on family planning to the IDPs has been an eye opener to the women, now they could make informed choices and take responsibility of their own health.
“now with the family planning knowledge they have, many of them voluntarily approach me to help them get the commodities because they want to stay healthy and alive, this is not the time to make too many babies that one cannot cater for, with our programme and reqular visits to the women in the various locations where the displaced people reside, we have observed that what is lacking amongst them is the education on how to live well. Believe me when I tell you that all these people you see in these camps have this thirst for knowledge, no one force them to go to the clinics for antenatal, they know their dates of appointment and they go when it is time, what they need is support, commitment to them to know that the society feels their pain as well” said Briama
PPFN has about 2,000 women and over 5,000 children accessing its medical interventions. It ensures that the children eligible for immunisation get the vaccines when required and the pregnant women are helped through the time of their delivery. PPFN has been able to introduce some of the women into their family planning programmes and more lives are being saved.
Official report from the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Maintenance Agency (FEMA) says that there are 18, 635 IDPs since it had its last count in February, Alhaji Idris Abbas, Director General FEMA, told Health Reporters that the challenge of the agency is unavailability of sites to build camps for them, making reference to the unavailability of toilet facilities in the camp. He however said the IDPs have so far enjoyed good health care intervention from the State Primary health Development Agency, Red Cross, and other medical organisations on voluntary visits and medical outreach to the various IDP locations.