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  • Writer's pictureKay Sandberg

Women as Defenders of the Forest: Ikiama Nukuri (Ecuadorian Amazon)

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

The Ikiama Nukuri program is designed to eliminate all preventable deaths in pregnancy and childbirth of Achuar mothers and babies, and to improve community health by empowering Achuar Indigenous women and communities with the tools needed to be their own agents of change. Ikiama Nukuri means “Women as Defenders of the Forest” in the Achuar language. Since 2006 the program has been working in collaboration with the Achuar Nation of Ecuador to develop a model of addressing maternal, infant, and community health in a way that is culturally appropriate, empowering, and sustainable.

Here's a link to the recently-released Annual Report 2018-2019:

Community Health Workers Hone Their Skills

The heart of the program is 63 Community Health Workers (CHWs) serving 16 associations that make up the Achuar territory of about 10,000 people in the Ecuadorian Amazon. 77% of Achuar communities are covered by the program, which began in 2006.

Each Community Health Worker receives two years of training to be able to:

* Offer 3 prenatal exams per mother during pregnancy (the global standard)

* Safely deliver babies and recognize complications, whenever possible in advance of labor. 70% of women served have been assisted by a CHW during labor & delivery and 95% have received safe birth kits. There have been no maternal deaths

* Facilitate a connection to the public health system when medically necessary

* Provide one postpartum visit within 48 hours of birth

* Advocate effectively for community health and the wellbeing of women and children.

All services are provided free to Achuar families and CHW's are compensated.

Practicing Blood Pressure Monitoring

Based on an internal program assessment, 2020 goals for continued training include:

1. Family planning 2. Prevention of sexually transmitted infections

3. Addressing domestic violence

4. Review of knowledge and skills to better provide assistance during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care.

In these isolated communities the presence of compassionate, trained neighbors can make the difference between life and death. Advocacy training supports women by giving them tools to fiercely protect the sanctity of birth and the rainforest, for the preservation of their way of life and the health of Mother Earth for us all.

Completion of Advocacy Training

We are honored that the Community Health Workers of Ikiama Nukuri (formerly Jungle Mamas), our first Network partner continue to inspire us with their commitment to their communities, their families, and to learning!

To hear the voices and visions of Achuar health promoters, enjoy this stunning short video, "Our Voices Will be Heard":

Look for other Compassionate Birth Network partner profiles soon!



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