Africa-Press – Lesotho. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in concert with the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) has joined forces to mount response efforts for the victims of the recent floods and the Covid-19
pandemic. The collaboration was built on Thursday last week as stated in the UNFPA statement. These intervention efforts follow the heavy rains which had swept the bridges in some parts of the country
resulting in challenges of travelling by pregnant women and other women to access health services and family planning services in some quarters of the
country. The floods are reported to have also washed away the crops and the houses thereby compromising their shelters and survival. The prospective recipients
are set to receive the sanitary towels. “The dignity kits, which have been procured by UNFPA, contain hygiene products and have been designed specifically to assist
women in distress, women that had to leave their households or had to be hosted by other families, so as to reinstall their dignity” says the statement.
Although it is not yet known at this stage how many women and girls are expected to be reached by this drive, the DMA will embark on the exercise of identifying the most vulnerable.
“We saw increased cases of violence during the drought and sexual exploitation as
well as forced prostitution in certain circumstances and we have seen that women are the biggest victims during these emergencies. “We focus on assisting women victims of drought, women victims of violence because
of the drought and women being left alone at their households but our particular attention also goes to continuity of family planning services and continuity
of access to maternity for delivery during emergencies,” said the UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr. Marc Derveeuw. According to the statement, the Representative has “reaffirmed” UNFPA’s commitment to
supporting DMA, in particular to ensure the continuity of Sexual and Reproductive Health services as well as the Gender Based Violence (GBV) issues against women.
For her part, the DMA Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) remarked that: “Covid-19 has also caused us a lot of stress and has also increased the vulnerability of
women and girls. Most of our assessments results show that women and girls are mostly vulnerable, especially heads of households. ” Meanwhile UNFPA in partnership with the Office of the First Lady and the Lesotho Red
Cross Society had also distributed the dignity kits to girls and women who had been affected by drought. “For UNFPA, during natural disasters, sexual and reproductive health needs are often
overlooked, with staggering consequences. Pregnant women risk life-threatening complications without access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services
and women and girls become likely to lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unintended pregnancy in perilous conditions. In addition, women and girls also become more
vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and HIV infection,” further reads the statement in pertinent part. DMA and UNFPA are also set to join forces to undertake the upcoming Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment.