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John Jerome is one of 902 community volunteers who have been trained to diagnose and treat children for pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria under the PICH UKAM project

Picture Power in Nigeria

In March 2018, a group of participants in Benue State, Nigeria, documented the challenges their community faced in accessing healthcare and how Christian Aid's project, funded by UK aid, is improving their daily lives.

The project used our Picture Power approach - where communities are provided with the skills and equipment to conduct their own project evaluation and/or monitoring of a project. Participants use photography as a tool for gathering qualitative data on the changes and challenges that have been important to them during the lifecycle of a project.

This is part of our communications for development (C4D) work.

Healthcare for under-fives

The participants were analysing and documenting the Partnership for Improved Child Health (PICH) project - a partnership of the State government and our partners Jireh Doo Foundation and Ohonyeta Care Givers (OCAG), led by Christian Aid with funding from UK aid. The project goal is to help reduce mortality for children under five.

What did they do?

Ten community participants, including community-based health volunteers and community advocates, were chosen and trained in participatory photography in a two-day workshop. The participants were selected by our partner, ensuring a variety of different people - male, female, different ages, and not limited to the most outgoing participants.

The objective of the Picture Power project was to give participants a voice and the space to reflect about the benefits as well as the needs of their communities through the medium of photography.

They had two days of training in camera use and visual storytelling, and two additional days to take photographs.

How are the photos used? 

After this, the images were captioned and edited, with the participants selecting their favourite images to present to their community in an exhibition. We see the photos as enablers – they gave marginalised, excluded and vulnerable people the space to reflect on the benefits of the project and barriers they face to access to quality health care services.

John's story in photos

John Jerome, Picture Power participant, Nigeria, March 2018

Before this project, I thought that photographs were just a picture. Now, I know that there are stories behind the pictures.

It feels good to tell the story for my community. We need to show what we have done, and what still needs to be done.

John Jerome

Community health volunteer and Picture Power participant

Challenges before the project

Before the project, children in his community faced many challenges to access basic health care. As part of the project, John documented some of the challenges facing his community through his photographs:

Polluted water source, Picture Power, Nigeria, March 2018

This is a stream that people use to get water. It is the only water source. It is polluted and contaminated by stools. I took it because when the children drink it, it affects them. It can give them cholera and typhoid. These are the main illnesses people get from dirty water. Sometimes you can see tiny worms dancing in the water. This prevents children from being healthy.

John Jerome

I had a situation, where a child died (before the programme), at 8pm, when he became sick. His body became very hot, before we could get him to the nearest hospital, he was gone. Even if people do have money to take their children to hospital, the road during the rainy season, it is so bad you cannot pass.

John Jerome

Community health volunteer in Nigeria

John said that a lot of things have changed since the project started:

'The community have put their trust in me and bring me their children (to treat). They no longer have to go far distances. One lady, who I treated her child for free, she used the money instead to buy food, and for other things for the family.

'It can be very scary, for example if a child is convulsing, if you see the whites of their eyes. You have to explain to the mother, that she needs to take the child to hospital. I feel very emotional towards the child. I helped the caregiver to find transportation.'

Pauline's story in photos

Pauline Ola is one of the health volunteers trained under the PICH project, she also took part in the Picture Power project. Through her photos, Pauline shows the positive impact the project has had on her community but also some of the factors that contribute to children’s health.

Pauline Ola is a health volunteer and she also took part in the Picture Power project. Through her photos, Pauline shows the positive impact the project has had on her community but also some of the factors that contribute to children’s health.

Photo: Gen Lomax

Children that were treated by Pauline Ola, a community health volunteer in Nigeria

Treating under-fives

'These children were brought to me for treatment. After treating them, they recovered and the mothers said that I did a good job for them. Since the project came to the community they are not spending so much money and children are healthier. Before the project children were dying. Two siblings of two children in this photo died before the project.'


A mother and child, treated by a community health volunteer in Nigeria

The impact of community health volunteers

'This child had malaria, I treated her and she recovered.'


A mother drying garri in Nigeria. Her baby was referred to a health facility by a community volunteer, as part of the PICH UKAM project

Nutrition and healthcare

'This is a mother drying garri. When I saw her baby, I referred her to the health facility and here they prescribed her medicines. I told her that she should feed her child better. She said that she couldn’t, but she is drying garri to sell and get money to buy food and medicines for her child. She said she would buy milk and vegetables.'

Pauline Ola, community health volunteer in Nigeria, using her camera provided as part of the Picture Power project

Pauline using her camera

Photo: Gen Lomax

The difference it made

  • The photos, quotes and learning from Picture Power projects are used to adapt and improve our programmes.
  • The content helps to raise awareness in communities about specific issues affecting a group or the whole community. 
  • The photos can be used to advocate at regional/national levels, fostering dialogue between communities and decision-makers. 
  • The approach helps communities to identify common challenges they face and find their own solutions to these challenges. 
  • The process supports and enhances our project monitoring and evaluation, bringing in extra information and direct feedback from communities themselves. 
  • Picture Power gives the participants a voice and agency, as well as developing new skills.

 

Overall project progress

There are a total of 198,966 children under five in the four areas where the PICH project is being implemented. So far, the project has reached 240,693 children (as of December 2018).

240,693

children under-five have been reached by the project so far

Project status as of December 2018