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Jun 29, 2016

Building Resilience: UNFPA's Work in Ebola-Affected West Africa

Since early 2015, Friends of UNFPA’s Global Giving project, “Make Motherhood Safe in Ebola-affected Countries” has helped UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, rebuild health systems throughout West Africa that were devastated by the outbreak. With help from generous supporters like you, health systems are now on the road to recovery and are better situated to face future public health emergencies. With the outbreak declared officially over in January 2016 by the World Health Organization, UNFPA’s work in the region will now focus on broader reproductive health needs.


With the Ebola outbreak disrupting the delivery of basic healthcare services in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone it was necessary for international agencies like UNFPA to not only work to end the outbreak, but to also re-establish health systems in order to meet the basic needs of surrounding populations. In Liberia for example, more than 50 percent of health facilities, including those that provided antenatal care services to pregnant women, closed following the highpoint of the crisis in the summer of 2014, leaving women without anywhere to turn to deliver safely.

While the Ebola virus continued to spread, funds raised enabled UNFPA to further its work in contact tracing, the process in which trained select community members located each person that was in contact with an infected individual. UNFPA’s contact tracing helped stop the spread of the virus in order for the rebuilding stage to begin.

As UNFPA worked to rebuild the region’s health systems with a particular focus on maternal health, its broader goal was to develop the region’s resilience to disasters and disease outbreaks. By investing in the healthcare workforce, building confidence in facilities in surrounding communities, integrating traditional caregivers into the larger system, and communicating on the importance of facility-based care and delivery, UNFPA helped rehabilitate the healthcare system and prepared it to better handle the next disaster or outbreak.

As a result of UNFPA’s work, the region has witnessed increases in prenatal check-ups, the use of modern contraceptives, and facility-based deliveries. Specifically, in Bomi County, Liberia, so far in 2016 there have been 528 facility-based births, nearly 5,000 users of modern contraceptives, and over 3,000 prenatal care visits conducted.

Project Conclusion:

Since the World Health Organization declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in January 2016, it is necessary for UNFPA Country Offices in West Africa to resume core activities geared toward improving access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for women and girls. Specific projects now ongoing in the region include reducing instances of teenage pregnancy through prevention education, centered in schools, via media and other forms of healthcare information dissemination.

Additional Opportunities:

While Friends of UNFPA is concluding Ebola-related fundraising, there are additional opportunities on Global Giving to support UNFPA’s ongoing work to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Thank you for your support of this project. With your help, UNFPA has been able to provide health and dignity to the women and girls affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

May 6, 2016

UNFPA Provides Care After Cyclone Devastates Fiji

A mother sits with her baby in a health facility
A mother sits with her baby in a health facility

In February of this year, Cyclone Winston devastated the island nation of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 340,000 people, or 40 percent of Fiji’s population, were impacted by the category 5 cyclone – the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The storm affected 87,500 women and girls of reproductive age, including 5,600 pregnant women. The storm also completely destroyed eight large hospitals and damaged 55 others.

Even under normal conditions, reproductive health issues are a leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. When a crisis strikes, skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable, exacerbating the vulnerability of pregnant women.

UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contain basic items necessary for a safe birth, including sterile gloves, a blanket, a plastic sheet, and soap. For only $11 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services.

Since Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, UNFPA has distributed over 1,000 clean delivery kits to women, procured 4,400 more and provided 150 reproductive health kits to medical facilities to ensure they can continue to offer life-saving reproductive health services despite damages or lack of electricity. UNFPA is also supporting the deployment of 20 additional midwives in highly impacted areas.

“We must ensure that services for pregnant women and childbirth facilities remain accessible. And women and girls must be able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and from sexual violence,” stated Dr. Laurent Zessler, director and representative of the UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional.

In addition to providing reproductive health care, gender-based violence (GBV) services are a critical part of meeting the needs of vulnerable women and girls in Fiji. According to the Fiji Women Crisis Center, 64 percent of women in the country suffer physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime, and in times of crisis, rates of GBV often spike.

"It is a plain and simple truth that disasters reinforce, perpetuate and increase gender inequality, making bad situations worse for women,” said Margaret Wahlstrom, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

UNFPA also provides dignity kits to women in disaster and the surrounding countries. Dignity kits contain items such as underwear, soap, a comb, and feminine hygiene supplies. For $25 you can provide these essential items to a woman for six months.


Apr 26, 2016

1 Year After the Earthquake: UNFPA's Work in Nepal

Meeting at UNFPA Female Friendly Space
Meeting at UNFPA Female Friendly Space

A year after two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, UNFPA has gone deeper than addressing only its direct consequences. UNFPA’s work ensuring the health and dignity of women and girls after the disaster has begun to correct long-term issues of gender-based violence.

As in most crisis settings, the earthquake increased rates of violence; however, abuse was already pervasive before the quake hit, while the resources for women experiencing it were scarce. As part of its response, UNFPA helped establish 14 Female Friendly Spaces in the districts hardest hit. Over the past year, these 14 facilities have reached more than 410,000 women. 

“As the fabric of society broke down, insecurity and violence against women went up,” says Giulia Vallese, UNFPA’s representative in Nepal. “The deeper work to tackle the attitudes and beliefs that fuel violence against women is just getting going, and there’s far more to do.” UNFPA’s Female Friendly Spaces provide shelter as well as physical, emotional, and psychological support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

“We faced a lot of resistance when we started all this,” says a member of Nepal's Women’s Human Rights Protection Network, a UNFPA partner. “I was threatened, and many men thought we would make their lives more difficult by helping women think differently. But after they came here, they started to understand and to work with.”

In addition to Female Friendly Spaces, UNFPA has provided the following services:

  • 132 reproductive health camps provided services and supplies to over 104,000 people.

  • 80 birthing facilities that were destroyed during the earthquake were rehabilitated so mothers can give birth safely and receive the post-natal care they need.

  • Over 56,000 Dignity Kits were provided to women and girls in earthquake affected areas. The kits include clothes, sanitary napkins, towels, washing materials, and a flashlight.
UNFPA tells girls about dangers of child marriage
UNFPA tells girls about dangers of child marriage


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