Access to health education is crucial to improving the health and well-being of individuals, especially in challenging settings such as refugee camps where access to information is limited. The Audiopedia project in Uganda, in partnership with the local NGO TPO (Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation), aimed to address this issue by providing accessible health education to women in the Palorinya refugee settlement using solar audio players.
TPO Uganda is a local NGO that focuses on improving the mental health and psychosocial well-being of communities affected by crisis and conflict, particularly in refugee camps. They provide a wide range of services including counselling, mental health support and community-based interventions.
Mental health is an important aspect of overall health and well-being, particularly in a refugee setting. The stress and trauma of displacement can have a significant impact on an individual's mental health, and access to mental health support is essential for coping with these challenges. The Audiopedia project in Uganda, in partnership with TPO, aimed to address this issue by providing accessible health education to women in the refugee camp, including information on maternal health and nutrition, as well as COVID-19 prevention.
The Audiopedia project took place in the Palorinya refugee settlement. The Palorinya refugee settlement is located in the Moyo district of Uganda, close to the border with South Sudan. It is one of the largest refugee settlements in Uganda, hosting more than 60,000 South Sudanese refugees. The settlement was established in 2016 to provide a safe and secure environment for the influx of South Sudanese refugees fleeing the civil war in their country. The settlement is run by the Ugandan government in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian agencies. The refugees in the settlement face a number of challenges, including limited access to education, health care and other basic services. In addition, the population is largely dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.
Overcoming language barriers: Delivering health education in Madi, Kuku and Arabic
The Audiopedia project targeted 392 female beneficiaries and aimed to empower them with knowledge on maternal health and nutrition. The team produced audio content in three languages: Madi, Kuku and Arabic, to ensure that the content was accessible to women in the refugee camp regardless of their language background.
According to Jocknus Bitekere, project coordinator at TPO Uganda, "The solar audio players were a game changer for the women in the refugee camp. They were able to access health education in their own languages, Madi, Kuku and Arabic, which was a huge barrier that we were able to break down".
Ben Otto, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager at TPO, also emphasised the importance of the project: "The women in the refugee camp have limited access to information and this project has helped to empower them with knowledge about maternal health and nutrition. It's been a huge success".
The team distributed solar audio players to the women in the refugee camp, allowing them to listen to health education content in their local language. The content covered topics such as maternal health, nutrition, and maternal and child health. The solar audio players were easy to use and the content was designed to be accessible to women with limited literacy skills. The women were also provided with a user manual explaining how to use the solar audio player.
Implementing the project: Distribution, training and follow-up assessments
The project was carried out in two phases. In the first phase, the team distributed the solar audio players and provided training on how to use them. In the second phase, the team conducted follow-up visits to the refugee camp to assess the impact of the project. The team conducted interviews with the women and found that the project had a positive impact on their knowledge of maternal health and nutrition. The women reported that the audio content was easy to understand and that they enjoyed listening to it.
One of the key lessons learned from the project is that accessible health education is essential to improving the health of refugee women. The team was able to empower the women with knowledge about maternal health and nutrition, which will help them take better care of themselves and their children. In addition, the inclusion of information about COVID-19 was important to ensure the safety and well-being of the refugee women and their families. Another important lesson is that solar audio players can be an effective way of delivering health education to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas. The solar audio players are easy to use and the content can be tailored to the needs of the target population.
The project also provided information about COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread. The team recognised the importance of this information and included it in the audio content as the pandemic was affecting the refugee camp and the surrounding community. The women were given information on how to protect themselves and their families from the virus, as well as how to recognise the symptoms and seek help if necessary.
Empowering women as agents of change in the Palorinya refugee settlement
Of the 392 beneficiaries reached through the COVID-19 awareness campaign, 212 (36 men and 176 women) were vaccinated. In addition, 16 cases of alcohol abuse and 2 suicide attempts were identified and treated. Beneficiaries are now adopting new coping mechanisms and adhering to the COVID-19 standard operating procedure. Beneficiaries have been seen wearing face masks and installing hand washing facilities in their homes. They have become agents of change for COVID-19 prevention. They have been seen encouraging others to get vaccinated by showing their cards to dispel the myth. Beneficiaries attest to improved social well-being in their households. The audio content is also being listened to by indirect beneficiaries.
In conclusion, the Audiopedia project in Uganda was a pioneering effort to provide accessible health education to women in a refugee camp. The collaboration between the local partner NGO TPO, the German NGO DAHW and the Audiopedia Foundation was successful in bringing health education to women in the refugee camp who would otherwise have had limited access to this type of information. The use of solar-powered audio players was an innovative and effective way to deliver the content, and the project had a positive impact on women's knowledge of maternal health and nutrition. The project highlights the importance of accessible health education and the potential of solar audio players as a tool for delivering it to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas.