By Sadiq Abubakar Maiduguri
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Field Offi ce in Maiduguri and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Borno state, have agreed to strengthen partnership for community mobilisation on child survival, protection and development issues. Briefi ng newsmen in his offi ce yesterday on the programmes implemented by UNICEF in the state, the UNICEF Chief of Field Offi ce Maiduguri, Geoff ery Ijumba, said there was a huge gap in community mobilisation on all elements of child survival. According to him, these include immunisation, polio, exclusive breastfeeding, hand-washing, sanitation and hygiene and the use of insecticide treated bed nets. “Community mobilisation is needed in immunisation, not just polio, but for acceptance of all the antigens including measles and the preventive and treatment aspects of malnutrition.
“A recent evaluation on polio found that if community mobilisation is enhanced, you’ll have more people coming out for immunisation,” he said. Ijumba also highlighted the impact of hygiene on diarrhoea as other areas that require community mobilisation. He listed other sectors requiring NOA’s support in community mobilisation as “mobilising communitiesto enrol and retain their children in school as well as child protection issues bordering on child sexual abuses; the imperative of the domestication of the Nigeria Child Rights Act; and addressing stigmatisation of children caught up in confl ict.”
“So, whether in development or emergency, we have had issues such as polio, meningitis, and handwashing, amongst others which requite community mobilisation. “Th ese are the broad areas where we need your support in community mobilisation,” he said. Responding, the state Director of NOA, Yahaya Imam, said the Agency had “what it takes to do community mobilisation,” adding that “NOA uses community dialogues, town hall meetings, public rallies, community theatre and interpersonal communication to mobilise people for behaviour change or support for policies.
” “So, it all depends on what kind of messages you want to disseminate, but our structures in all the local government areas in Nigeria are available for community mobilisation; that’s why we have come.” He assured of his readiness that of his team to collaborate with UNICEF to mobilise the people of Borno state on all issues of child survival, development and protection