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Essential community involvement and participation in Angola: IYCF GIFA and ENN Project

Author: GIFA / ENN report (CRS)
Year: 2003
Resource type: Case study

Case study from: INFANT AND YOUNG CHILD FEEDING IN EMERGENCIES GIFA/ENN PROJECT (2003)

Researchers: Mary Corbett (Evaluation of Module 1) and Marie McGrath (Collation of case studies)

Case 47
Location: Angola
Time: 2003
Source: Anna Maria Campos, CRS Angola
Issue: Essential community involvement and participation

In our community programme, community activists visit homes at least once a month. If they find a sick child, they advice the mother to bring the child to the clinic. They then return a few days later to ensure the child has been treated.

The community workers are voluntary women, identified by the community and live in the areas they are targeting. During the initial set up of the community programme, all the village elders are gathered together. CRS explains to the leaders the nature of the programme and that it will not involve any distributions but sharing of information. A general assembly is then held with all the community involved in choosing the most appropriate community members to train as health activists. The feeling is that the women who are chosen to act as activists are generally representative of the community. Inevitably there will be a leader’s wife included, but overall the process is felt to be representative of the community at large.

In terms of monitoring of the activists activities, random visits are made by supervisors to homes. They carry out quick interviews with mothers to check whether they have received and understood the health messages.

Community activists do not receive any payment for their work, other than items that may have been donated to CRS, though payment is a frequent request.

Often the community activists use music and role play to carry out their activities. Once a year, a party is held in each community to which all the community is invited to. A quiz with questions and answers on health messages is held, with small prizes usually related to the topics, eg soap. All the community activists then perform their music, songs and dance that they use in their teaching activities. These sessions have proved very popular and are often “gate-crashed” by those from neighbouring villages.

In terms of training on breastfeeding support, two key areas identified are position of the infant and suckling technique. It is often believed that the nosier the sucking, the more effective it is. Pictures are used to illustrate techniques and an imminent addition to the training is a breastfeeding doll. Most of the women are illiterate, so information needs to be kept to the minimum. Every year, revision of training is carried out.

As back up to the activists activities, support is given to the health clinics in the area. Staff training is carried out, which has a more technical basis. Here, nurses often consider that nutrition education is not part of their role and tend to focus attentions on treatment rather than preventative activities.

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GIFA / ENN report (CRS) (2003). Essential community involvement and participation in Angola: IYCF GIFA and ENN Project. www.ennonline.net/communityinvolvementparticipation

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