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UNFPA to respond to GBV needs in Cyclone Idai affected areas under ZIRP project

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations’ sexual reproductive health agency and lead agency on Gender Based Violence (GBV) with support from the World Bank, under the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP) has started providing GBV prevention and survivor support to communities affected by Cyclone Idai.

In the aftermath of the devastating floods, over 1000 people who had been displaced from their homes were placed in temporary camps, while thousands were stranded and to date remain hosted by family or friends, and have seen their livelihoods and community structures disrupted. It is in this environment where the risk of GBV became pronounced. This risk was further for many women and girls due to factors such as loss of livelihoods and capacity to access basic goods and services; overcrowding and limited space, inadequate wash facilities (latrines with no doors or lockable from the inside), lack of privacy and inadequate public lighting and security measures.

*Maria Ndagurwa (35), a mother of five from Old Location in Chimanimani says when she moved into a public place with her children after the cyclone had destroyed their home – she thought they were ‘safe.’ She did not suspect anything could happen since they were staying with people from her community whose houses had also been destroyed by the cyclone.

Ndagurwa says when she arrived at the shelter, some male community members had been ‘chosen’ to be in charge of the food preparation and distribution.

“One of the men who was in charge of the food distribution started proposing love to me, promising that he would give me tinned beef and cooking oil to feed my family,” she says. “It made uncomfortable more so because this was someone I knew; someone I had lived with in the same community before the cyclone. It was also disturbing that the food was not his – this was food that had been donated by well-wishers.”

UNFPA intervention is meant to mitigate GBV risks and provide multi-sectoral response to survivors. GBV surveillance is crucial to identify and timely refer GBV survivors to life-saving services.  UNFPA will leverage on existing community-based GBV surveillance to strengthen case identification and reporting to specialized service providers – this will be done through the engagement of Behaviour Change Facilitators (BCFs). Under ZIRP, UNFPA will engage at least two BCFs per ward in three districts.

Under the project, UNFPA will also support the provision of multi-sectoral services through the mobile OSC model, which further aims at addressing the identified challenge of reaching static GBV facilities by those residing in remote or hard to reach areas. The mobile OSC model incorporates outreach medical and psychosocial support (services, while also providing timely referrals to higher levels of care, including shelter and legal services. The mobile OSCs services will be integrated into the ZIRP mobile clinics interventions led by World Health Organisation and mission Hospitals supported by ZIRP, in order to leverage on existing community mobilization and also as a way to utilize the broad health programme component of the ZIRP as entry point for enhancing GBV reporting and increase service uptake.

The mobile OSCs services will also complement the static OSC services already existing in Chimanimani. The mobile OSCs will be operationalized through NGOs specialized on GBV multi-sectoral service provision. Each GBV OSC team will be composed of a GBV specialized counsellor, a paralegal officer and a coordinator. The team will coordinate the provision of GBV services leveraging on the presence of qualified doctors and nurses within the WHO mobile clinic teams, who will provide GBV survivors accessing the mobile OSCs with clinical management of sexual violence services, including post rape treatment and referrals to higher level of care at the static mission hospitals.

The above activities to be implemented with UNFPA is critical to ensure accessibility to the most vulnerable and hard to reach communities and increase resilient systems and structures to avert and respond to GBV among the populations affected by Cyclone Idai.

In 2019, Cyclone Idai hit several parts of Manicaland and it was established that more than 140,000 out of the affected population were women and girls, of which about 50% are in the age range 15-49 years (70,000).