Beyond Borders Media visits HIRDA in Somalia
“Without the support of HIRDA many people would have died”
HIRDA’s contribution to the 4th Millennium Goal in Somalia
The deadline for the realisation of the UN millennium goals is fast approaching. By 2015, the eight agreements drawn up by the UN to reach improved living conditions in the developing world have to be achieved. Beyond Borders Media
(BBM), a Dutch communication agency, travelled to eight developing countries across the world to see the progress that has been made so far. The aim was to provide insight into one goal per country and how different Dutch NGOs are contributing to the realisation of the particular goal. Somalia is one of the countries Beyond Borders Media brought into picture and they visited HIRDA in recognition of its efforts towards the fourth millennium goal: ‘Reduce child mortality’.
HIRDA sat down with Reinier van Oorsouw from BBM (in the middle of the picture below) to talk about his impressions.
Why Somalia and why HIRDA?
‘After doing some research Somalia turned out to be a country where child mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. When we realized this, we wanted to know how this problem is being tackled by NGOs and whether there has been some improvement. As far as we knew, HIRDA is the only Dutch NGO that is actively contributing to the development of Somalia. HIRDA has a great focus on reducing child mortality in the Gedo region. We found out that for a long time HIRDA was the only provider of basic health services in the area. The moment we learned this, we immediately knew we wanted to see your work on location.’
What have been your findings once you were there?
‘The shopping mall Westgate in Nairobi was just attacked when we landed in the Kenyan capital and switched to an airplane that would bring us to Manderra, a small town in the northeast on the border with Somalia. One day before, Al-Shabaab attacked a local police station in this town that caused the loss of two lives among the corps. Not a pleasant working environment, while the temperature reached over 40 degrees of Celsius.
How did you proceed…?
From Manderra we crossed the border surrounded by ten armed guards to protect us from possible threats. Relatively quick we visited different project locations of HIRDA. We started with the Cold Chain Facility, where vaccinations are being preserved cold. A huge challenge when you realize there is hardly any electricity available in the area we were travelling. The second stop was at two basic health clinics. In the first clinic children received basic health care and were stabilized with food against malnutrition. The second clinic was more of a hospital where children suffering from illnesses or malnutrition were admitted for a longer period of medical help. Because of my work I have seen many developing aid projects. However, I have rarely seen a country that needs aid as much as Somalia. Without the support of HIRDA many people would have died from malnutrition or illnesses, which are initially easy to cure.’
What is in need of improvement according to you?
‘A doctor showed me a tool they use to diagnose whether a patient is infected with malaria or not. It turns out this tool does not always provide the correct results. By providing mosquito nets – like HIRDA is doing – or pills for pregnant women, infection can be prevented from the start. However, the fact that the government implemented a Ministry of Health Care gives hope for a better future in Somalia.’
What kind of impression did you have when you left the country?
‘What impressed me is how open Somali people were in front of the camera. They openly told their personal stories. Dutch people are often more reserved. In Somalia people tell immediately what’s on their mind. It is a colorful country with colorful people, but because of the desperate situation the country does not have he chance to develop.’
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