Report from Afar calls for focus on access and appropriateness of maternal health services

A baseline report released this month by The Road Less Travelled (TRLT) project supports the theory that improved maternal and child health outcomes cannot be achieved through health interventions alone. The project, led by Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA), has adopted a holistic, strengths-based approach to its community development activities, which includes measures to address education and literacy as well as to improve access to water, food security, and livelihoods.

This report presents the findings from a Baseline Assessment undertaken in late 2011 among nomadic pastoralist communities in the Sifra and Yallo woredas (districts) of the Afar region of Ethiopia. The research was carried out by TRLT project partners the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) and the Nossal Institute for Global Health. It builds on the project participatory design process which identified community assets, important cultural and gender issues impacting on health, and challenges in accessing basic services.

Maternal and child health baseline survey among nomadic pastoralist communities in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
Image: Christof Krackhardt / APDA

A quantitative questionnaire was administered to 400 pastoralist households – 200 from Sifra and 200 from Yallo. The questionnaire was administered to a man and a woman from each of the participating households. Qualitative data was captured via a series of focus group discussions based on semi-structured question guides and through Community Resource Mapping and community forums which identified resources and services available to the communities.

In her Foreword to the report, APDA Project Coordinator Valerie Browning explains:

“The report cries out that access and appropriateness of services and resources, specifically health and water, must receive due attention in order to enable safe motherhood.”

The baseline data allows for a deeper understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding maternal and child health and other issues impacting on health in Afar communities.

“Since all issues raised in the report are well within the realms of APDA’s experience and expertise to tackle, this Baseline Report should energise the project team on to greater alliance with the community in the facilitation of the planned safe motherhood initiatives in each of these project districts, while providing a contextual pattern for the remaining project districts.”

If you’re interested in learning more, you can download the full report here.

The Road Less Travelled is a project of Anglican Overseas Aid, and is being delivered with the support of AusAID.

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