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Bayanihan for Women and Girls in Emergencies

Australia and UNFPA’s assistance help pregnant women and children affected by Typhoon Tisoy


Cris and her daughter happily go over the hygiene kit received from Australia and UNFPA

Northern Samar, Philippines – “I was trembling and afraid that I may lose my baby.” Two months have passed, but 30-year-old Cris Puaso from Northern Samar, still remembers the anxiety and fear that she felt on the night of 1 December 2019 when the devastating Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri) lashed with strong winds and heavy rains in her coastal barangay.

Cris was four-months pregnant at that time when she suddenly experienced bleeding. “I had bleeding the night the typhoon hit us. My husband and I had to bring my children to my mother’s place. Good thing we left our house, because when we returned the following day, our home was destroyed by a collapsed coconut tree.”

The underserved, in already poor provinces, hit more severely

According to the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Northern Samar is among the poorest provinces in the Philippines, and this was made worse by Typhoon Tisoy. More than 300,000 people in Northern Samar were affected as Typhoon Tisoy wreaked havoc in the province, killing 4 people and injuring 73 more. Authorities reported that 10,023 houses were destroyed, while 111,991 were partially damaged by the typhoon — most of which were houses made of light materials.

Disasters like this typhoon, however, do not put a pause on the urgent needs of women who are pregnant or delivering babies. At the time of the Typhoon Tisoy, it was estimated that there were close to 4,600 pregnant women affected in Northern Samar alone. An average of more than 500 live deliveries are expected each month — all of whom need access to safe and clean delivery services despite the disaster.

Women, particularly pregnant and nursing women, have special needs

Through the partnership between the Australian Government and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on prepositioned supplies and services, 900 pregnant and nursing women in worst-hit municipalities of Allen and Laoang received maternity packs and women’s hygiene kits. These kits include sanitary pads, tissue, cotton, slippers, soap, blanket, and underwear, which are essential for maintaining their hygiene, health, dignity and self-esteem. The supplies also help them provide care and protection to their children in times of emergencies.

Cris is among the hundreds of women who received support from this program. “I am happy that I was given assistance! I feel comfortable now, and better able to care for my baby,” said Cris.

Jenny Darish, Head of the Northern Samar Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office stated, “The assistance provided to us is of great help and is instrumental in our recovery process especially for the pregnant and nursing women and their children.”


A pregnant woman from Northern Samar receives her own hygiene kit

Since 2012, the Australian Government has been closely working with UNFPA and the Government of the Philippines towards its commitment to provide immediate life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people affected by disasters and emergencies. The long-standing partnership with UNFPA has since made strides in ensuring that women and girls, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, have uninterrupted access to sexual and reproductive health supplies and services, and protection from gender-based violence.

This post was originally published on UNFPA Philippines.

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