‘SABI support and data helps boost local antenatal services’

SABI support and data helps boost local antenatal services

Education and healthcare provision often do not extend to remote and hard to reach communities in Sierra Leone – places like Benduma in Bo District. Benduma is a community of 250 people in Bagbwe Chiefdom, about 25 miles from Bo town. The community had insufficient healthcare support and no proper school.

The freezer in the health centre is still an issue, the building does not have a proper labour room and there is not enough accommodation for the nurses. When the health centre was originally built, the population was a lot smaller.

Many people have to travel the 25 miles into Bo town for treatment. Antenatal care attendance has fallen, as pregnant women struggle to cover the high transport costs. Those who do make the journey must travel on motorbikes along very poor roads. Expectant mothers from Benduma face more complications and higher risks to their pregnancies.

Community leaders had been aware of these health challenges, but they didn’t have the community engagement skills to act and secure support.

The Intervention of SABI

Youth Accountability Volunteers (YAVs) – trained by SABI partner Restless Development – held a series of meetings to promote inclusion and conducted a citizen perception survey which enabled community people to anonymously answer questions about service delivery.

As part of this data collection, YAVs spoke to all groups in the community, including pregnant women and new mothers, people with disabilities and Ebola survivors. The volunteers collected information on citizens’ experiences of health, education and social protection services.

How SABI Facilitated Change

SABI supported the YAVs to present this evidence back to people in Benduma using simple infographics. This informed the development of a community action plan, which ranked poor medical facilities and the school as the top two issues in need of urgent attention.

Community leaders in Benduma set up a committee, and worked with others in the community to gather local resources. Groups of young people and women in the community volunteered to produce local bricks to support the project.

‘SABI is all about bringing people together. Before we had to cajole people – SABI has made it known that everyone is included, women and men, everyone,’ says community elder Sheku Kamara.

Eventually, the people of Benduma, worked together and built a three-classroom school structure in the community. Contact has since been made with the local council and the Ministry of Education with a view to the school in Benduma being approved.

A 3 classroom structure built by the community

Using their action plan as evidence, the committee in Benduma also engaged community health workers (CHWs), traditional birth attendants, health supervisors and the district health medical team (DHMT), to improve the community health services and restore antenatal care attendance levels.

Increased clinic attendance in Benduma Community

CHWs engaged in community sensitisation, while the health supervisor coordinated the supply of drugs with the DHMT in Bo. Today, more pregnant women and new mothers are attending clinic days in Benduma itself because drugs have been supplied.

‘We know what SABI is all about. SABI is here to tell us things that we did not know before,’ says Chief Michael Bundu. ‘When we know these things from SABI we can work together as a community to implement these things.’

Extra quotes:

Hannah Moses, women’s leader: ‘We are really happy about this SABI. SABI has taught us a lot of things we did not know before. SABI has taught us how to live together in peace. SABI has taught us that both partners of the family are important and that they are equal and have to work together. This has taken hold in the whole community.’

 

 

Hassan Koroma, community member: ‘SABI is like a flashlight and shows us the way. It has shown us the value of education. Because of the openness that SABI has introduced here, we even have meetings at household level, men and women and children meet together and discuss family issues and things that affect the children.

 

 

Mariama San, village Sowe: ‘In this community women’s participation is really here, it’s beginning to kick in that at meetings women’s participation is very important and so we are ensuring that everyone is involved.’