Additional 800,000 USD offered to flood-affected women, girls

Amid Vietnam’s devastating floods, UNFPA offers additional support for women and girls affected by the crisis.

This follows UNFPA’s earlier handover of dignity kits to the Vietnam Farmer’s Union for COVID-19. Photo: UNFPA Vietnam

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam has made additional USD 800,000 available from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to secure immediate support for women and girls in eight provinces and Da Nang city, which have been severely affected by devastating floods and landslides, bringing the total amount of UNFPA’s support to USD 1.34 million.

On November 24, 5,704 dignity kits were handed over to the Central Committee of Vietnam Farmers’ Union for distribution to women who experience or are at risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Vietnam’s floods-affected three provinces, namely Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Nam provinces.

Again, on November 29, Thao Xuan Sung, Chairman of the Central Committee of Vietnam Farmers’ Union and Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam handed over these dignity kits to female farmers in Quang Nam province. 

The country’s central coastal region has suffered unprecedented flooding from prolonged downpours and successive typhoons since early October, resulting in more than 200 deaths recorded so far, and displacing thousands of people. At least 5.5 million people in the region have been affected, including over 1,300,000 women of reproductive age and more than 92,000 pregnant women. 

Flooding is having an enormous impact on women and girls as health systems become overloaded and facilities close, or provide a limited set of services which they need. 

However, 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.

Women at risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) received dignity kits. Photo: UNFPA Vietnam

According to the joint rapid assessment carried out in October, in which UNFPA experts played a lead role in the most affected areas of central Vietnam, health facilities have been hit hard by floods and landslides, and routine public health programmes such as antenatal, child birth, 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 mobile and outreach health care clinics, the distribution of Dignity Kits with essential hygiene items, provision of vital maternal health equipment and supplies such as the Doppler Fetal Heart Rate Detector. In addition, UNFPA is introducing communication materials to affected locations on how to manage pregnancy and child birth, how to respond to gender-based violence, and where to seek help particularly when faced with domestic violence.

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 Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam.

“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 Vietnam 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 Vietnam. Many have suffered from the loss of homes, livelihoods and belongings in the wake of the devastating floods,” stressed Kitahara.

Mai Nguyen