Kenya. Photo: Jenny Clare
An opportunity to help those in greatest need
Knowledge Africa is a program initiated in 2011 by the Board of The American Fund for Charities (AFC) to support educational initiatives across the African continent. It is funded by donations made to the AFC without a suggested grant recipient. From such funds, the AFC Board annually selects a few charities from our evaluated organizations to receive small grants.
Last year, Knowledge Africa supported two non-profits in Sierra Leone that were indirectly involved in mitigating the effects of the Ebola epidemic.
We would welcome your support of this program. Given our contacts and knowledge of non-profit organizations, the AFC can ensure that your donations will be put to good use.
EZO Project, Sherborne Deanery
(KNOWLEDGE AFRICA GRANT BENEFICIARY, 2017, 2016)
Maternal mortality in Western Equatoria, South Sudan is one of the highest in Africa. There are several reasons. Attendance rates at antenatal and postnatal clinics are low and most women deliver at home, without assistance from trained staff. Most mothers in this rural area live far from a health facility. As a result of poor education levels, especially among girls, awareness of the importance of antenatal care, postnatal care and delivery assisted by trained midwives is lacking. Furthermore, the devastating effect of civil war in South Sudan has destroyed much infrastructure and the ability to retain staff.
The Anglican (ECSS) church has run primary health care clinics in various parts of South Sudan for many decades. As these clinics are staffed by local people, they have mostly remained open, even during the terrible times of fighting and destruction. The programme in Ezo diocese, Western Equatoria has been fortunate in that the fighting has ceased in the last two years. This has enabled an outreach programme from the clinic in Ezo to be established.
A one-year pilot project has been very encouraging. Many women of reproductive age are more aware of the health issues surrounding pregnancy and what they can do themselves to promote safe pregnancy. More women recognise specific problems in pregnancy, delivery and after delivery and ensure that they reach a clinic for further diagnosis and treatment. Much greater awareness of the issues around delivery has been achieved and both women and their husbands are much better informed about safer delivery care. In addition, mothers have learned about the complications that may occur after delivery and how they can recognise these and manage them or obtain further diagnosis and treatment.
A novel approach has included the start of the programme with a large local primary school (designed for 120 pupils but now attended by over 400 pupils!) In which young and adolescent children are taught age appropriate information about safer health for women related to pregnancy. This has respected local traditional culture but recognises the need that improved knowledge, including by boys and men, is a vital part of improving maternal health in future generations.
These are very difficult because the internet is often down, limiting the sending of detailed reports and pictures from Ezo. The information provided in this report has been collated by the medical adviser in the UK, having received email reports and had frequent, if rather brief, conversations on mobiles in Ezo, when they are working. The funds from Knowledge Africa have been safely and securely sent in 3 tranches. Instructions for sending money are only given when satisfactory account of work has been received. It is anticipated that, now the fighting is much less, the medical adviser, UK will make a further visit to Ezo in 2018.
The Next Stage
This programme is very popular and appreciated by the Ministry of Health Staff responsible for Maternal Health throughout Western Equatoria. Unfortunately, there are no funds from government available at this time. Continued efforts are being made to obtain government funding but at present there is urgent need for funding to continue this project which is achieving a lot of change in these deprived rural populations.
Knowledge Africa grant beneficiaries to date
2014 (Ebola Crisis)
2015 (Ebola Crisis)
Ezo Project, Sherborne Deanery $12,000
Ezo Project, Sherborne Deanery $10,000