UNFPA offers US$540,000 for women and girls in six flood-hit localities in centra region
21:51 | 30/10/2020
VGP - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam has made available US$540,000 to secure immediate support for women and girls in six provinces affected by devastating floods triggered by almost a month of incessant storms.  

The country’s central coastal region has suffered unprecedented flooding from prolonged downpours and successive typhoons since early October, resulting in at least 130 deaths recorded so far, with 18 persons listed as missing.

On 28 October, earlier this week, a powerful storm, Molave, battered the region - one of the strongest storms in 20 years. As such, more damage and losses may be expected. At least 5.5 million people in the region have been affected, including an estimated 1,343,162 women of reproductive age with 92,075 of them pregnant.

Pregnancy and menstruation do not stop in emergencies, and as such uninterrupted services for sexual and reproductive health must be provided to women and girls. And risks of violence against women and girls increase in crisis, for which effective prevention and response must be immediately put in place for women exposed to, or at risk of being exposed to violence and abuse.

According to the joint rapid assessment carried out last week, in which UNFPA experts played a lead role in the most affected areas of central Viet Nam, health facilities have been hit hard by floods and landslides, and routine public health programmes such as antenatal, delivery, post-natal care and family planning services have been disrupted. Women and girls continue to be unable to access basic health care services, including sexual and reproductive health.

The disaster has forced women and girls to displacement in evacuation centres without having the time to pack essential supplies. As a result, they are unable to manage their hygiene properly and lack access to basic needs such as sanitary pads, clothes and underwear that are needed to manage their menstrual periods. In addition, access to water and places to wash and dry reusable pads and clothes, or to dispose of used materials, is currently challenged.

The UNFPA funding and support includes the distribution of Dignity Kits with essential hygiene items, along with vital maternal health equipment (such as the Doppler Fetal Heart Rate Detector, which detects the heartbeat of a pregnant woman’s foetus). In addition, UNFPA is supporting the delivery of mobile and outreach sexual and reproductive health services, as part of the wider health sector response to violence against women and girls in flood-affected areas.

A pre-existing crisis of violence against women and girls has been exacerbated in the context of COVID-19. Recent reports have shown that shelter hotlines have received twice as many calls for help over the past months compared to the same time periods in previous years. The risk of violence against women (physical, sexual, psychological and economic) increases substantially during humanitarian crises.

“When emergencies like this strike, life changes in a moment. This natural disaster has already destroyed thousands of homes and forced people to flee. Women and girls are among the most vulnerable. Women do not need to die giving birth, and this must hold true even in emergencies,” said Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam.

“While fleeing, people are in need of basic necessities – ranging from food and water to hygienic supplies and medical care. UNFPA is striving to assist the Government of Viet Nam in restoring and improving the lives of the flood victims, particularly the most vulnerable,” she added. “UNFPA expresses sympathy for victims and their families affected by the latest tragedy, especially women and girls. This contribution underlines our solidarity with the people of Viet Nam, many of whom have suffered the loss of homes, livelihoods and belongings in the wake of the devastating floods.”

UNFPA is present in over 150 countries, including Viet Nam, and works closely with national and local governments, United Nations agencies, community organizations, and many others to support the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls during emergency response. UNFPA delivers hygiene supplies, maternal health services, and deploys trained personnel./.

By Hoang Ha

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