Established in 1958 for Rwandan refugees, Nakivale Refugee Settlement has been in operation thanks to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for more than 55 years. Located in southwest Uganda, it is home to more than 74,000 refugees and asylum-seekers and coordinates with several global partners to serve this vulnerable population, including Medical Teams International, American Refugee Committee, the World Food Programme, Samaritan’s Purse, Nsamizi, and Windle Trust Uganda, among others. It works in cooperation with the Ugandan government.
At Nakivale, tens of thousands are mothers, and on one hot March day, members of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign had the privilege of meeting Odetta. Odetta is a 40-year-old mother from Burundi. She arrived in 2011 with her family. Today, she has eight beautiful children. Her youngest, Abaiu, is just two months old and she is breastfeeding him. Dressed in brilliant colors, Odetta invited us into her home to proudly show us that her family sleeps under a bednet.
Last year, there were more than 63,000 cases of malaria at Nakivale – that’s an astounding number for a population of 74,000. Here, malaria is the number one cause of illness and death among children under 5. And it is estimated that approximately 45% of households do not yet have access to a bednet. After all these families and mothers have been through, the last thing they should have to worry about is their child dying from a mosquito bite.
Odetta’s family was lucky to receive a net. A member of Nakivale’s village health team came to their home, helped her hang it, and explained how to use it.
“Since we have the net nobody in my family got malaria,” she says with pride. “Before we were very often sick.”
Today, there are more than 50 million displaced by violence around the world – and 60% of those live in areas where malaria is transmitted. Malaria is a major threat to refugees – it is a leading cause of death in the areas where Nothing But Nets works. This year, the campaign launched The Million Nets Pledge to protect refugee families from malaria with 1 million bednets by 2016. This ambitious two-year goal aims to raise $10 million to protect vulnerable people fleeing violence in central Africa.
World Refugee Day is June 20, and Nothing But Nets aims to deliver 10,000 life-saving bednets to protect vulnerable families from this preventable disease. Children and refugee families across Africa have faced unspeakable odds. After all they have endured and survived, these families should not have to fear dying from a mosquito bite. We are committed to protecting them so they can rebuild, be healthy, and thrive.
You can help us save lives. Learn more and take the pledge.