Asseta Rouamba was one of thousands fleeing extremist violence in Burkina Faso’s troubled north when her daughter contracted malaria, putting the pair in an even more desperate situation.
“We are exposed. In addition to the precariousness of our shelter, there are food and health difficulties,” the 74-year-old said inside a white tent at a health center outside the northeastern city of Kaya.
“This center has welcomed us with free care, which has been a huge relief.”
Kaya, the capital of the Centre-Nord region, has been overwhelmed with an influx of people forced to flee their homes by a violent insurgency. More than 1,100 people have died, and more than a million have been displaced in the violence since 2015. The bloodshed is stretching already-slim resources in the country’s north.
Kaya has been largely spared from the violence, but 472,000 people have taken refuge in the area around the city since January 2019. A third of that number has been taken in at reception sites in Kaya’s Sector Six, which is home to the health and social promotion center that treated Rouamba’s daughter.
An average of 160 people visit the center per day. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has earmarked $118,000 to fund consultations, vaccinations, maternity care, testing and malnutrition treatment at the center. The funding is part of a $16.2 million program the ICRC launched in April 2020 to boost protections for vulnerable civilians and provide essential services in the Sahel region.
Head nurse Issa Sawadogo said the center had struggled since the start of the influx, “but now we are feeling good, more or less.”
“With the rehabilitation of the maternity ward, toilets, laundry room and reception room, our health center has been given a more human face,” the nurse added.
Adjaratou Sawadogo, a 43-year-old mother of three who fled violence in the central Barsalogho department, also sang the center’s praises.
“There is no distinction in the treatment between the local population and we displaced people,” she said.