The sparsely populated far southeastern part of Maridi County does not see many visitors, yet it has suffered from its unfair share of conflict and violence. As a consequence, the delivery of basic services is somewhat lacking. Fortunately, and with the help of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, that may be about to change.
“With no maternity facility, expectant mothers always suffer during labour. The number of women and newborns who die in the process is alarming,” women’s representative Rahma Elia in Ras Olo payam (a small administrative division) told a visiting team of peacekeepers.
While poverty levels may remain high and access to education patchy at best, mothers-to-be can at least look forward to receiving the child delivery services and care they need. That is because UNMISS, as part of its Quick Impact Project programme, has approved the funding of a maternity ward in Raso Olo, located some 90 kilometres from the county headquarters in Maridi.
In fact, construction of the lifesaving facility is already ongoing. The implementation of the project is a first in this part of Maridi County.
“I will be honest: we who live here often feel marginalized, which is why this UNMISS-funded development is a true blessing for us,” said Michael Makiri, Executive Chief of Ras Olo payam.
“Living conditions here, especially for women, are frankly deplorable. Women’s groups have long tried to address the poverty that affects residents, but a lack of support has hampered our efforts,” said Rahma Elia, who hopes that the arrival of a maternity ward will prompt more positive developments.
Margaret Joshua, a Gender Affairs Officer serving with the peacekeeping mission, is pleased with the Quick Impact Project currently underway.
“This one is important for us, because the need for this centre for maternity healthcare is pressing. It will no doubt benefit large numbers of women,” she said.