Owerri – The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Tuesday launched a Volunteer Community Mobilisers Initiative in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area, Imo.
Speaking at the orientation meeting with representatives of the communities, the Director of the NOA in the state, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, said the initiative was aimed at facilitating the development of the community systems.
Ekeocha added that it would be focusing on developing processes and capacities for behaviour and social change, especially those pertaining to the survival, development and protection of children.
The director observed that most communities looked up to social networks such as associations and groups for information and endorsement.
He noted that such groups were points of influence as well as active mobilisers for change.
He said that such groups and associations had been at the forefront in the identification and nomination of volunteer community mobilisers
Ekeocha added that the volunteers would become efficient change agents in various ways especially change in norms on childcare, development and protection.
He said that in Anambra, where the initiative was piloted, the volunteers were able to follow up on the ante natal care of pregnant women up to the birth of their children.
He said the volunteers also followed up on the immunisation of the child up till the fifth year, promoting rapid transformation in the communities.
He said the volunteers would be properly oriented before being deployed to the 33 communities in the area.
He expressed the hope that the representatives would come up with an action plan for promoting the essential family practices within their communities.
The Head of the immunisation programme in the state ministry of health, Mr Adolphus Okoro, stressed the need for all children to have access to immunisation at the proper time.
He said the immunisation should start at birth and continue up until the ninth month.
He lamented the indifference to immunisation of children in the rural communities.
Okoro urged the volunteers to ensure that immunisation was done promptly by following up on pregnant women in their communities.
Mrs Chineze Ileka, a UNICEF desk officer, said that monthly appraisals would be conducted to measure the success of the programme.
She added that the programme would be extended to other local governments but would be discontinued if no noticeable progress was observed.
Also contributing, a community mobiliser, Mrs Florence Anyika, said the initiative brought about a positive change in the community where it was launched. (NAN)