Enduring a 15 kilometer walk to the nearest clinic will soon be part of the past for people living in Kalaf, Djibouti. Now, only a minute away from the village stands a maternity clinic completed on Dec. 22, 2014.
The clinic construction was the result of cooperation between the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the Djibouti Ministry of Health, and was funded by the Department of Defense humanitarian civic assistance fund.
As stated in the Djibouti Ministry of Health mission strategic plan, the average life expectancy in Djibouti is 46 years old. The major causes of death are from infectious diseases and the Djibouti Ministry of Health is seeking to address these challenges through its national plan for health development. The plan will focus on the reduction of morbidity and mortality of pregnant women and children under five.
“In a country where the maternal mortality rate is currently more than 20 times greater than that in the United States, with this new clinic, we hope it will have an enormous impact on the village for generations to come,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Aaron Kulp, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, Horn of Africa officer in charge.
The new facility, which will be turned over to the Tadjourah Health Minister early next year, can house a maternity ward, nursery, bathrooms, cooking area, bedrooms, two buildings for water storage, an incinerator to burn medical waste and two sewage treatment tanks. The Seabees also installed 20 solar-powered batteries that provide power to the entire clinic.
According to Kulp, the facility was built with structurally insulated panels. This allowed for quick construction, while still providing the necessary strength to withstand heavy winds and long days of continuous sun, both of which are common to the region.
“Acquiring construction materials that will be able to provide long-term sustainment in Djibouti was a challenge during this project,” said Kulp. “We sought to purchase materials that could be readily replaced by the village.”
Twenty Seabees from NMCB 133 and 14 Seabees from NMCB 74 worked on the facility from February to December 2014. Throughout the construction process, Tadjourah Trades School students from the Centre d’Apprentissage Cardjin observed the Seabees during concrete placement, residential electrical wiring, carpentry and welding.
“It was great for the students to be able to come out and experience this big construction project,” said Kulp. “By developing a relationship with the trade school, the students were given the opportunity to learn valuable construction skills at an active construction site.”
With the completion of the Kalaf Clinic, the Seabees, who are assigned to CJTF-HOA until their redeployment in January 2015, will continue to look for construction projects on the base and for the local community of Djibouti.