News

High risk of maternal death and sexual violence in flood affected districts

30 June 2017
UNFPA Assistant Representative Abbigail Msemburi officially hands over CERF funded reproductive health and dignity kits to the Government of Zimbabwe. ©263Chat/Sharon Karinda

NatPharm, Harare, 30 June – 5,000 women and girls are at high risk of gender-based violence including sexual violence, as well as at high risk to maternal death or complications in flood-affected districts in Mashonaland Central according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who handed over essential humanitarian supplies to the Government of Zimbabwe today for distribution to victims of the national flood disaster.

Zimbabwe experienced severe flooding this year caused by abnormally high rainfall which was worsened by the effects of the tropical cyclone Dineo in March of this year. The Government declared the flood disaster a national emergency and appealed for international assistance to meet both the immediate and long-term needs of affected communities.

 

In response, UNFPA has secured $198,000 from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for reproductive health and dignity kits. The appeal was made by the United Nations agency following findings of rapid assessments carried out in the worst affected Mashonaland Central districts of Tsholotsho, Muzurabani and Mbire. 

The findings revealed that approximately 5,000 women and girls are in need of life-saving GBV protection services as extensive damage to infrastructure forces them to travel long distances to growth points in order to access basic services and replace lost essential items, exposing them to a higher risk of sexual violence, as well as opening up avenues for transactional sex. Expectant mothers are also at extremely high risk of maternal death or ante- post-natal complications due to extensive damage to five health facilities in the three districts, as well as the loss or destruction of surgical instruments and essential reproductive health supplies.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, UNFPA Assistant Representative Abbigail Msemburi said women and girls are among the worst affected in humanitarian crises yet their sexual and reproductive health needs and rights are often overlooked in times of disaster.

“One in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant during times of disaster and many more are at risk of gender-based violence including sexual violence, domestic violence and child marriage,” said Ms. Msemburi. “As UNFPA, we are committed to supporting the Government of Zimbabwe in responding to this national disaster leaving no one behind by ensuring women and girls remain high on the humanitarian response agenda.”

“One in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant during times of disaster and many more are at risk of gender-based violence including sexual violence, domestic violence and child marriage,” Abbigail Msemburi, UNFPA Assistant Representative

The UNFPA reproductive health kits, which include 39 clinical kits containing essential medicines and equipment for normal assisted delivery as well as 7 referral kits for caesarean section surgeries, will be distributed to the all rural and district health facilities in the region to assist with an estimated 250 safe deliveries over the next three months. 2500 dignity kits will also be distributed containing essential hygiene items, acting as a mitigation strategy for GBV exposure and restoring dignity to women and girls displaced and affected by flooding.

Ministry of Health and Child Care Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control, Dr. Manangazira thanked UNFPA for heeding the government’s call for support in assisting in the national flood disaster response. “This contribution from UNFPA will go a long way in saving the lives of expecting mothers and their babies and protecting vulnerable women and girls,” said Dr. Manangazira. “We would like to thank and acknowledge UNFPA and its partners for their support in the emergency response, its coordination role and technical support of the GBV sub-cluster and look forward to future partnerships and collaboration with the aim of ensuring the health of women and young girls in Zimbabwe.”

"The dignity kits we have received here today will go a long way in addressing these challenges faced by women and girls,” said Acting Director for Gender in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development (MWAGCD), Ms. Chido Tsinakwadi. “The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development remains committed to working with partners in addressing the plight of women and girls in Zimbabwe during humanitarian situations. As we do so let us also continue to strengthen capacity of partners to be able to adequately prepare and respond to GBV in Emergencies, and I am happy UNFPA has already started to support this critical capacity building.”

Both the reproductive health and dignity kits will be distributed from 17 July by the MOHCC and MWAGCD with support from UNFPA to affected communities in Tsholotsho, Muzurabani and Mbire. 

By Victoria Walshe