What is your role and what does it involve?
I have been the Assistant Medical and Nutrition Coordinator since September 2009. My core role is to assist the Medical and Nutrition Coordinator in her work. This involves the following roles:
- Training national and international teams in the field on the implementation of nutrition projects (conducting field visits, attending regular technical meetings, defining team objectives)
- Representing ACF in meetings with local and state partners;
- Disseminating ACF’s knowledge and expertise at the national level (exchange visits, evaluation of training needs)
- Leading advocacy activities
- Supporting the Medical and Nutrition Coordinator with the surveillance of the medical and nutritional situation in the country (collection and analysis of data, setting strategies, rapid evaluations and nutritional surveys)
- Tailoring interventions to needs (working with the Ministry of Health to identify the capabilities of health structures to respond to nutritional crises and defining adequate response strategies)
- Leading training activities (identifying training needs, supporting field teams with training)
- Preparing activity reports on technical issues (analysis of nutritional data and narrative reports)
- Managing and monitoring of projects (preparation of donor reports, proposals, budgets, overseeing the follow up of objectives, timelines and agreed budgets and proposal of recommendations)
What is the nutritional context of Burkina Faso? What are the causes of the high rates of malnutrition?
The national nutrition survey in 2009 indicated that the prevalence of acute malnutrition was 10.7% throughout the country with variations between regions. In the east where ACF undertakes projects, the rate is 10.5%. It goes up to 11.8% in the province of Tapoa where the first ACF base in the country was established. The context is also marked by social and cultural practices which degrade the nutritional health of the population. Difficulties in accessing drinking water and complications associated with measles and malaria epidemics are other factors which contribute to the nutritional context of the region. Furthermore, health workers lack the technical knowledge required to address the problem of malnutrition.
Could you provide an example of some of the achievements which ACF has made in Burkina Faso in combatting malnutrition?
A national protocol for the treatment of malnutrition has been established across all of the health structures of the region which are supported by ACF. Communities (479 community volunteers) now undertake screening and communication to help change nutrition practices in 167 villages.
What challenges do you face in your work?
Weaknesses and holes in the national nutrition strategy - I have been advocating for a revision of it.
Breaks in the supply of key materials and delays associated with their delivery.
The mobility of health workers.
What motivates you to go to work everyday? What inspires you?
The happiness I get from saving lives and my ability to help underprivileged members of society.
The satisfaction of seeing a malnourished child undergo a complete recovery with little more than commitment.
Successes on the ground in just a short space of time and the commitment of the population to activities which contribute to the fight against hunger.
Stories from beneficiaries recounting the kindness of our actions.
The adoption of the question of malnutrition in national health policies.
What has your time with ACF taught you?
I have taken many learnings from the work that I do. For example it has taught me that:
Malnutrition is a curable disease which can be treated with few means.
The disease can be cured by supplying the basic needs of the body and by treating associated illnesses.
The struggle requires a multisectoral approach and the involvement of communities.
Commitment and determination are key weapons in the fight against malnutrition.
The work is high pressure and a team spirit helps to further advance the work.
Communication is at the centre of all activities.