Isiolo faced a number of obstacles in Q1, including a continued drought, insecurity and a challenging political environment, marred by budget cuts. The drought is one of the longest and most severe on record and has led to a hunger crisis. We are working closely with the
county government on its response efforts, especially around malnutrition.
Meanwhile, post-elections, the new administration has shown low political will toward community health outside of relief programming. Living Goods is working diligently to rebuild the government’s commitment to DESC-enabled community health. We realized that we needed to adopt a stronger and more proactive approach, especially in light of the change of government. Efforts include investing time with the new county government team, bringing in support from the national government and facilitating learning visits to demonstrate the benefits of DESC.
CHW performance was also impacted by a shift away from digital reporting during the quarter. In March, the government asked about a third of the CHWs to start manually reporting to accommodate another partner’s relief efforts. Paper-based systems affect CHWs’ delivery of health services and the accuracy of their data. Fortunately, these CHWs are reverting to digital tools by May, and we are supporting the county in managing competing priorities on CHWs’ time by various partners.
Another third of CHWs switched to manual reporting during the quarter due to dysfunctional phones. Although digital tools are the county government’s responsibility under our co-financing contract, we are assessing if we can fund replacement phones for these CHWs, given how disproportionately impacted the county is by the national government’s recent budget cuts and delayed disbursements. We are optimistic we will be able to rebuild the county government’s confidence in DESC-enabled community health, hoping to resume full digital reporting and service delivery by Q3. While we believe this is a
unique and unprecedented set of issues coming together in Isiolo, we are capturing lessons for our work in other counties, especially when there are government transitions.