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URC to Play Important Role in USAIDs Resilience and Economic Growth Project
URC will play an important role in Resilience and Economic Growth in Sahel – Enhanced Resilience (REGIS-ER), a new project to increase resilience and economic growth in the Sahel, the semi-arid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to the Sudan. The five-year project, which is funded by USAID and led by NCBA CLUSA International, aims to increase the resilience of chronically vulnerable people, households, communities, and systems in targeted agricultural areas in Niger and Burkina Faso.
Resilience will be achieved through (1) increased and sustainable well-being, (2) strengthened institutions and governance, and (3) improved health and nutrition. URC will manage the project's health and nutrition component.
URC has a long history of empowering communities around the world to improve their quality of life. We do this by applying innovative, evidence-based approaches to improve the quality of and access to health, education, and social services. Building on over 45 years of global health experience, we have developed and implemented successful solutions to health-, nutrition-, and sanitation-related challenges throughout Africa, including Niger.
In this project, URC will:
- Engage communities in activities to raise awareness of the importance of good health and nutrition and increase adoption of positive behaviors, such as eating nutritious foods, using clean drinking water, and seeking quality health care services;
- Give special attention to the needs of agro-pastoralists (nomads and migrants) as well as settled communities;
- Integrate cross-cutting issues, such as gender, to improve women's and youth's health and nutrition and thereby enhance their social and economic potential; and
- Work very closely with governments, local partners, and community workers to facilitate knowledge sharing, strengthen service delivery, and ensure sustainability.
Health Care and Nutrition in Niger and Burkina Faso
Niger and Burkina Faso have made progress in reducing under-5 mortality since 1998, achieving 43% and 27% reductions, respectively. However, access to and the quality of health care and nutrition services remains inadequate due to: low numbers of qualified staff; frequent stock-outs of medicines and materials; limited outreach; lack of money; lack of transport; and, for women, fear of not finding a female care provider.
Under-nutrition in the agricultural zones of both countries results from insufficient intake of nutritious food, disease, and the interaction between the two. They create a vicious cycle that negatively affects morbidity, mortality, and economies. Children under five and pregnant and lactating women are at particularly high risk, partly due to their increased nutritional needs, but mostly due to gender inequity that pervades all aspects of rural life.
For instance, when a household experiences food scarcity, priority for food is often given to males, leaving poorer quality and less food for mothers, despite their higher nutritional needs. The resultant poor health is compounded by women's poor access to health care, lack of access to and control over resources (including food and money to buy it), lack of employment opportunities or lower wages, and having to make trade-offs between working and child care. Lack of knowledge about women's and children's nutritional and health needs is a significant barrier to change in this regard.