UNFPA calls on world to protect women in cyclone-affected Mozambique

Cites 75,000 pregnant women and risks of gender-based violence

27 March 2019 - As assessments continue to determine the extent of damage and needs following Cyclone Idai, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, says there is an urgent need to protect women, who bore the brunt of the storm as they tried to save their households and livelihoods. “We are worried it is a race against time to provide women and adolescent girls, especially those who are pregnant and lactating, with lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services, said Andrea Wojnar, the UNFPA Representative in Mozambique.

“We estimate over 75,000 cyclone-affected women are pregnant, with over 45,000 live births expected in the next six months, and 7,000 of those could experience life threatening complications,” she said.

After touring several affected facilities and communities in Dondo District of the hard-hit Sofala Province, Ms. Wojnar said she was “devastated to see young girls in labour in maternity wards with enormous holes in the roof, and maternity nurses and their families living in tents in muddy areas next to devastated clinics”.

“With at least 35 health facilities fully or partially destroyed, and health workers themselves left homeless or stricken, we are working around the clock with the Government and other partners to restore basic maternal and child healthcare,” said the UNFPA Representative.

As part of the revised UN humanitarian response plan for Mozambique, UNFPA is appealing for more than 9 million USD to provide reproductive health supplies and services to ensure safe birth, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, voluntary contraception, and rape treatment. Prevention and response to gender-based violence is also a priority.

“The risk of exploitation and sexual violence increases when women and girls are dislocated from their communities and regular support and protection systems break down,” said Ms. Wojnar. “Many do not have safe places to sleep or go to the latrine. When they lack food and basic necessities, women and girls can fall prey to predators and opportunists.”

In response to rising risks of violence, UNFPA is working to establish safe spaces for women and girls, “where they can go for information, psychosocial support, and referrals to medical and legal services, especially if they have been assaulted or victimized,” stressed Ms. Wojnar.

“We are also distributing ‘dignity kits’ that contain sanitary pads, underwear, African cloth for clothing, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a security whistle”, she said. “All are very basic items, but ones that uphold women's dignity through hygiene and safety.”

Highlights of UNFPA planned response

  • Coordinate sexual reproductive health sub-sector, map SRH partners’ presence and contributions and service gaps

  • Deploy maternal health nurses to 34 temporary facilities to provide SRH services to estimated 150,000 women and adolescent girls, including safe delivery, antenatal care, postnatal care, family planning, HIV/STI prevention, newborn care, clinical management of rape, post-abortion care to save lives

  • Procure reproductive health kits, medicines, supplies for 34 health facilities and provincial/district hospitals

  • Distribute clean delivery and newborn kits to 10,000 mothers

  • Deploy community health/youth volunteers for awareness raising on health issues such as family planning, HIV/STI prevention, and danger signs during pregnancy.

  • Establish referral pathways for integrated SRH/GBV services

  • Ensure adolescent sexual reproductive health through mobile clinics

  • Deploy SURGE personnel and recruit national staff to coordinate and implement UNFPA´s response in SRH

Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response

  • Co-lead with UNHCR protection cluster and lead GBV sub-cluster under UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group

  • Establish women-friendly spaces (WFSs) open to all women and girls, offering information, group activities, psychosocial support, and referrals along with private spaces for GBV case management

  • Provide dignity kits to 50,000 women and girls with items specific to their hygiene and protection needs to increase their mobility to access life-saving services

  • Train GBV service providers on guiding principles, referrals, case management, psychosocial care

  • Mobilize youth and raise community awareness on GBV prevention through targeted outreach to men, women, boys and girls

  • Deploy and recruit SURGE personnel and recruit national staff to implement UNFPA response in GBV

For more information:
Andrea Wojnar, UNFPA Representative
Tel: +258-843008174

Karlina Salu/Communications
Tel +258-840560246