Last week, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) handed over 486 sets of Dignity kits to the Lao Youth Union to prepare them for immediate response to natural disasters or emergencies. These kits will be available at the Lao Youth Union for immediate dispatch to affected women and girls between the reproductive ages of 15-49 when needed.
Natural disasters such as floods hit various parts of the country every year, particularly in rural areas where residents already face considerable challenges in accessing health services and seeking care due to the rough roads and long distances. In addition, natural disasters exacerbate difficulties in accessing sanitary supplies and primary health services, including sexual and reproductive health services.
Residents, especially women and girls, lose their homes due to the floods and lack basic hygiene supplies. These basic hygiene supplies are often forgotten during emergencies. However, women continue to give birth, and girls will require menstruation pads and hygiene supplies. Those necessities do not stop in a crisis; rather, they are needed more than ever.
“Protecting the dignity and well-being of women and girls is central to UNFPA’s work. When disaster strikes, UNFPA ensures that reproductive health and the protection needs of women and girls receive immediate attention. As a globally recognized best practice, the dignity kits meet the basic needs of women and girls for hygiene, mobility, and psychosocial and social well-being during disasters and crises” said Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative.
This is part of the preparedness for and response to crisis support from UNFPA to the Lao Youth Union to protect the dignity and well-being of women, particularly pregnant women and adolescent girls. Lao Youth union has a presence in every village and the network is well placed to respond when a crisis occurs.
In disasters, affected women and girls of around 400 families will receive these kits having towels, whistles, mosquito repellants, soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cotton T-shirts, LED flashlights, Lao Sinh tam, sanitary napkins, plastic bowls, comb, pairs of underwear, shoes and plastic bag.
“UNFPA is a long-term partner to the Lao Youth Union for empowering adolescents and young people. This support from UNFPA will help the Lao Youth Union for providing rapid response during humanitarian emergencies. UNFPA’s contribution will help meet the hygiene needs of women and girls affected by emergencies. Furthermore, it will close the gap in emergency response by responding to the specific needs of the affected families, especially women and adolescent girls.” said Mr Thongchanh Phoumiphanh, Deputy Secretary General of Lao Youth Union.