Government of Japan and UNFPA partners to launch a Safer Cities Initiative

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Government of Japan and UNFPA partners launch a Safer Cities Initiative( photo: UNFPA Laos).

The government of Japan pledged 833,333 USD to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to implement: Safer Cities: Interventions against Covid-19 focusing on WASH and Protection for communities at risk.

The launch today at the U.N. House was attended by H.E. Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan in Lao PDR, H.E Dr. Inlavanh Keobounphanh, President of Lao Women Union, Ms. Mariam A. KHAN, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Avi Sarkar, Regional Advisor – South-East Asia, UBS, and Head of Office, UN-Habitat in Lao PDR, and representatives from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In her opening remark, H.E Dr. Inlavanh Keobounphanh, President of Lao Women Union, thanked the government of Japan, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, and other partners for supporting the protection of women and girls in Laos. “This partnership provides support to survivors, women, and girls to access law and justice and ensure their safety through protection shelters, including mental health and psychosocial support,” said Dr. Inlavanh.

The project aims to improve the lives of about 500 vulnerable women and girls and survivors of violence and 3,000 COVID-19 affected people, as well as strengthen the capacities of 100 service providers, through the provision of WASH facilities, physical improvements to protection shelters, quarantine facilities and isolation facility structures, gender-responsive support, and improvement of women-friendly spaces. The project targets 11 provinces (Sayabouly, Savannakhet, Bolikhamxay, Champasak, Sekong, Saravane, Khammouane, Attapeu, Bokeo, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane).

H.E. Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan in Lao PDR said “Japan is a strong supporter of the COVID-19 response and gender equality efforts in Laos. It is my pleasure to assure you that Japan will continue to support Laos in various fields, including the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response and the empowerment of women. Japan does so as a strategic partner of Laos, reiterating our support and strong desire for continued close collaboration with the international community and development partners.”

In her opening remark, H.E Dr. Inlavanh Keobounphanh, President of Lao Women Union, thanked the government of Japan, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, and other partners for supporting the protection of women and girls in Laos. “This partnership provides support to survivors, women, and girls to access law and justice and ensure their safety through protection shelters, including mental health and psychosocial support,” said Dr. Inlavanh.

The project aims to improve the lives of about 500 vulnerable women and girls and survivors of violence and 3,000 COVID-19 affected people, as well as strengthen the capacities of 100 service providers, through the provision of WASH facilities, physical improvements to protection shelters, quarantine facilities and isolation facility structures, gender-responsive support, and improvement of women-friendly spaces. The project targets 11 provinces (Sayabouly, Savannakhet, Bolikhamxay, Champasak, Sekong, Saravane, Khammouane, Attapeu, Bokeo, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane).

H.E. Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan in Lao PDR said “Japan is a strong supporter of the COVID-19 response and gender equality efforts in Laos. It is my pleasure to assure you that Japan will continue to support Laos in various fields, including the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response and the empowerment of women. Japan does so as a strategic partner of Laos, reiterating our support and strong desire for continued close collaboration with the international community and development partners.”

Ms Mariam A. Khan stated: “This project comes at a critical moment, I thank the Government of Japan for this contribution which responds to COVID-19 but also paves the way for a rapidly urbanising Lao PDR. This new support will safeguard the health and lives of thousands of women and girls and vulnerable groups in the years to come .

The project focuses on two main components: 1). Provision of protection and social services for women and girls, including gender-sensitive safety measures, for quarantine/isolation facilities and protection shelters.  It also aims to establish three new protection shelters and improve two existing protection shelters to provide safe haven for women and girl survivors of violence and vulnerable women. 2). Provision of WASH facilities/hard infrastructure and physical improvements to quarantine/isolation facilities, community centers, and at-risk communities.

The project also contributes to the implementation of the Essential Services Package on Women and Girls Subjected to Violence, a global guidance tool identifying the essential services by health, social services, police and justice sectors to be provided to all women and girls who have experienced GBV. The ESP is supported by many donors, including DFAT, UK, SDC and KOICA.