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Delivering food, clinical and educational supplies against the odds

I went with the team to visit probably the remotest and poorest part of the Binga district.  Save the Children has not been working in this area for very long because another local agency had a programme there.

The area is reached by probably the poorest road in the district – possibly the country! This road is often impassable during the rainy season which means that for part of the year the area is cut off.  Because of this, the local organisation can no longer afford to work in the area. Save the Children have been doing food aid there since October and the reason for my journey was to look at other ways to support this isolated community.

We visited the health centre where a small but dedicated team were grappling with an outbreak of illness, which might have been cholera. Cholera is actually endemic in the area and annually there are a small number of cases. For this reason, the centre had dealt with the recent outbreak of illness extremely well and seemed to have contained it. They did need some supplies, which Save the Children was able to supply, but otherwise they felt they were managing.

We then proceeded to the school and pre-school to deliver some learning materials and assess the situation as the new school year is due to start. Sadly, the road to the school had been washed away a couple of days before and so we were unable to get there. We left the materials at the clinic so that they could pick them up once they could cross the river.

Whether or not this school and all the other schools in the district open for the new school year is a matter of real concern. All the indications are that the teachers will not report for duty because their salary, which is still being paid in the now virtually useless Z$, will not even cover the bus fare to reach the school.  Also, children are unlikely to attend because many families are still struggling for food and children are in the bush looking for wild foods.

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