Like the rest of the world in 2020, our project was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to make many adaptations. Even so, we achieved a lot. These are some of the year’s highlights, drawn from a recent report by Project Director Jessie Forsyth.

Tevele community health centre, constructed by the project
  • Construction of all new health infrastructure was completed, including the construction of four rural maternities and three maternity waiting homes in district capitals, each with its own solar electrification system.
  • Our work with 20 partner communities is ongoing and overall participation and women’s leadership remain strong.
  • Community engagement activities continue to galvanize change. Through health committees, we continue to hear reports of positive interactions with community members when advised to seek prenatal care or to travel to a health facility for delivery, some of whom would not have otherwise done so, especially during COVID-19.
  • Communities began establishing youth committees as part of a strategy for increasing youth involvement.
  • Our Community Support Workers and health committees carried out adapted community-building sessions in support of increased well-being across our 20 partner communities, including monitoring of existing microprojects and preparation and training for new microprojects. Each session incorporated material on COVID-19 prevention and response and involved smaller groups of people to ensure social distancing was observed. They also  contributed to the district-level COVID-19 epidemiological surveillance teams by supporting community members identified as at risk due to recent travel, contact tracing, providing prevention and quarantine education, and sharing information about at-risk community members unknown to the district.
New flour mill microproject
  • Seven new microprojects (all flour-grinders) were established.  Microproject planning, procurement, and establishment ran very well, followed by technical and administration training for microproject teams. Participation in microprojects is ahead of target in the seven new and three planned microprojects.
  • We developed teaching tools from the Maternal Experience Study and used them effectively in continuing education sessions for health workers working with adolescents.
  • Community-based maternal and sexual health sessions were ongoing, although in smaller numbers than in previous years. Each education session incorporated content on COVID-19 prevention and impact mitigation, especially in relation to maternal and newborn health. Sessions took place within health committees, as well as in community markets, at water sources (boreholes/water pumps), and in neighbourhoods as part of the health committee’s information dissemination activities.
  • On-site management sessions focussed on preparing the next round of priority protocols, this time emphasizing pre-/eclampsia and birthing plans.
  • Continuing education for health system practitioners was ongoing, although adapted for COVID-19. All sessions incorporated education on COVID-19 prevention and response. The gender and health sessions and continuing education reflection sessions in particular were developed as part of the project’s work of deepening understanding of impact among beneficiaries while reinforcing key teaching/learning regarding gender equality as a determinant of health. All sessions reinforced adolescent involvement in sexual and reproductive health services and strategies for strengthening adolescent engagement in project interventions.