The money will be used to fund a 15-month project aimed at two initiatives: improving the delivery of basic maternal healthcare and ensuring a steady water supply in Girba locality.
Girba Rural Hospital serves both locals and refugees, and has the only maternity department in the area. The facility is deteriorating, however, making it difficult to meet the increasing pre- and postnatal care needs of the growing community. Using Italian funding, UNOPS will construct a new maternity department that will provide vital services to 50,000 mothers and children under the age of five.
"It's a federal priority to reduce maternal and child mortality, as well as to support the development of human resources in the health sector," said Alberto Bortolan, Head of Office of the Italian Development Cooperation, Section of Khartoum, explaining the importance of the work.
The Girba Refugee Camp – home to about 10,000 people – is served by only one water treatment plant that is being threatened by erosion. UNOPS will rehabilitate and extend the plant to ensure that camp residents and the local community have consistent access to water.
Eyob Getachew, Head of Office for UNOPS Sudan feels that this project is right on target. "This project is addressing the needs of refugees and the host community," he said. "In general, the state has encountered difficulties delivering quality healthcare to its residents. Improving water quality and health services will have a positive, long-term impact on children in the region, as well as on the community as a whole."
"Cooperation is an investment in the future," said the Italian Ambassador to Sudan, Fabrizio Lobasso. "It's clear that we're working to improve living conditions for refugees, but in the near future we wish to witness their professional and personal integration in Sudan, as this is an important source of well-being for the country. A lot has been done in this regard, but more must be done."
The new project will be conducted in close coordination with the Sudanese Commissioner of Refugees (COR) and relevant departments in the Kassala State Ministry of Health. Works will begin on the 1 June 2016.
A history of cooperation with Italy
This new project follows another successful partnership with Italy. Using funding from the Italian Development Cooperation, UNOPS also rehabilitated midwifery schools in Red Sea State and Kassala State.
"The pregnancy-related death rate is high in the area because there were not enough midwives," said the local principal of one of the rehabilitated midwifery school. "But with the completion of the Swakin Midwives School, many more local women can be trained in midwifery, and more pregnant women will benefit from this service."
The maternity ward of a health centre in Gadaref State was also rehabilitated. It is now providing increased access to clinical services for children under the age of five.