This post is the first in a series where we will be reporting back on our net impact across sub-Saharan Africa. Please look out for more updates in the coming months!
In late 2014 when our partner, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), started planning for their role in Cameroon’s upcoming national bed net distribution, they were not expecting an additional influx of refugees from Nigeria. Recognizing they did not have enough nets to cover these new refugees, UNHCR turned to Nothing But Nets to ask for help filling this need of 60,000 nets. Thanks to your support, we were able to provide these nets to refugee families in need.
Malaria is widespread in Cameroon, especially among children and women. In the parts of the country where most of the refugee camps are located, close to half of children under five are infected with malaria and it is a leading cause of death.
Getting the 60,000 bed nets to refugees across Cameroon was no easy feat. The distribution began with individuals in refugee camps and continued with those living off-site in host villages and urban settings. Many of the refugee camps where distributions took place are incredibly difficult to get to, and most are nearly impossible to reach by ground during Cameroon’s rainy season.
Unique to this distribution was the emergency assistance to Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram. Nothing But Nets works with its partners to provide flexibility to address the most pressing challenges. With the influx of Nigerian refugees in the north crossing the border to find safety in Cameroon, we were able to redirect critical life-saving nets to the Minawao camp in the Far North region. During 2014, the Minawao camp quickly became overpopulated causing living standards to deteriorate. As a result of poor drainage, stagnant water where mosquitos breed because a serious issue and the exposure and risks associated with malaria increased. In situations like this, malaria prevention and treatment can mean the difference between life and death.
In all communities where Nothing But Nets works, we make it a priority to support comprehensive malaria prevention programs to ensure our efforts to protect families have the greatest impact. In conjunction with the bed nets that were distributed, community led discussions were held to ensure that the nets were used properly, and that communities were educated about the warning signs and risks of malaria. Alongside communication activities, the Ministry of Health launched an education campaign via local community radio stations about the importance of using mosquito nets.
The distribution and educational campaign in Cameroon was made possible by the support of Nothing But Nets donors, organizational partners, and implementing partners. Overall, the campaign in Cameroon helped to protect a total of 115,172 people.