Baggari -In Baggari, a small town situated approximately 20km south-west of Wau town in the Western Bahr El Gazal region of South Sudan, Regina Dominic, and her fellow community members continue to live with the memories of conflict that destroyed their once peaceful town in 2016. Schools, churches and farmlands and the only health care facility were destroyed, and medical supplies looted.
When conflict broke out, the heavily pregnant Regina was left with nothing to hold on to, only a supportive husband.
“On that fateful day, our village was attacked and all we could hear was the sound of guns everywhere around us. Many people flee this area to seek refuge in neighbouring villages. I and my husband could not flee as I was pregnant. Everything was destroyed but we managed to survive, I don’t know how” recalls Regina, a member of the ECRP Boma Development Committee in Baggari.
After the conflict, Regina, and other pregnant women in her community would live the effects of the destruction. The women would walk for about two hours to reach the nearest health care facility that was in Wau town.
“Our crops were all uprooted from the grounds, even this place where we are standing was a battlefield that is why this health care facility was destroyed. To access medical services, you had to wake up as early as 5 am of the morning to start your journey to Wau, that is the only place which had the services we needed” says Regina.
“If only this medical center was untouched, we would not have to walk for two hours to access medical care” says Regina
Time came for Regina to deliver her baby.
Even the far distance of the hospital from Regina’s village did not scare her as she was determined to deliver her first baby in the presence of medical staff. Sadly, Regina could not make it to the hospital on time, she delivered in the middle of the road on her way to the hospital, in a place called Bringi, just a few kilometers from Baggari.
“I never wanted to deliver at home because I needed all the medical attention I could get especially since this was my first baby. But my legs did not carry me as fast as I wanted them to, I ended up giving birth on the street” Regina.
South Sudan is living the effects of conflict that erupted in December 2012 through 2016 and saw the destruction of hospitals, schools and brought people’s livelihoods to a standstill around the country.
After the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in 2018, displaced people started returning to their homes but access to basic services like health care, schools, clean water remained a challenge.
The Enhancing Community Resilience and Local Governance Project (ECRP), funded by the World Bank and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on behalf of the Government of South Sudan, designed to strengthen the capacity of local governance and community level institutions, and build infrastructure to address gaps in basic services delivery across the 10 states of South Sudan. ECRP supports the formation and functioning of gender and minority inclusive Boma Development Committees (BDCs) and Payam Development Committees (PDCs) as sustainable drivers of community development.
In Baggari, the committees were tasked to work together with different stakeholders in the community to identify the communities’ priority needs -the rehabilitation of Baggari Primary Health Care Centre was identified as a priority need for development.
“We saw that our women and children suffer and die because there were no health services closer to us, that is why we decided to present the rehabilitation of the health care centre, where our women, children, elderly and all other community members would access the medical services they need” Chief Emilio Ulau Baggari, the Head Chief of Baggari payam.
Rehabilitation works on the health facility started in early 2022 and in July a whole new rehabilitated health care facility equipped with solar panels and batteries to power the health center, and drugs storeroom was handed over to Baggari community, bring affordable health care center closer to more than 12,000 people in Baggari and its surrounding areas.
“When I look at how nice and neat this facility is, I can’t help but shed tears of joy, and of the pain I went through. I am so happy that no woman in my village will no longer go through the experience I had during childbirth unless if it is by the Will of God” says Regina as she amazingly looks at the U-shaped structure of the health care facility.
“Looking at this work, I am confident that our efforts to save our women and children did not go in vain, we will now lobby for well-wishers to come to our rescue with medical supplies as well as personnel to attend to these vulnerable community members” concludes Chief Emilio Ulau Baggari.
This story was written by Nabie Loyce, IOM South Sudan Media and Communications Assistant