Flood Ravaged Communities Battling High Maternal Mortality

Areas recently affected by floods are reportedly battling high maternal deaths and sexual violence due to the unavailability of healthcare facilities and other basic services, United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) has said.

According to UNFPA, extensive damage to infrastructure is forcing women to travel long distances to access basic services and this is contributing to maternal deaths as well as gender based violence among other challenges.

“Approximately,5 000 women and girls are in need of life saving GBV protection service as extensive damage to infrastructure forces them to travel to long distances in order to access basic service and replace lost essentials, exposing them to higher risk of sexual violence as well as open up avenues for transactional sex,” noted UNFPA in one of its reports.

Speaking at the handover to the government of Zimbabwe of a consortium of reproductive health and dignity kits to be distributed to flood victims on Friday last week, UNFPA Assistant Representative to Zimbabwe Abigail Msemburi said women were always at a disadvantage during humanitarian crises such as floods.

“Women and girls are among the worst affected in humanitarian crisis yet their sexual and reproductive health needs and rights are often overlooked in times of disaster.

“One in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant during times of disaster and many more are at risk of gender based violence including sexual violence,” said Msemburi.

UNFPA secured $198 000 from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to support communities affected by the recent floods in Zimbabwe following findings of rapid assessment carried out in the worst affected areas including Muzarabani and Mbire district.

Msemburi said UNFPA was committed to supporting the government of Zimbabwe in response to this national disaster as well as ensuring that women and girls remain high on the humanitarian response agenda.

Speaking at the same event, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira expressed gratitude at the gesture by UNFPA to assist flood victims.