DSWD’s women, child-friendly spaces in evacuation centers reduce risks during disasters

March 17, 2015 2:03 am 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, March 16 (PNA)–The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Monday it considered its initiatives in putting up “women-child friendly spaces” for women and children in evacuation centers as one of its “best practices” in reducing risks during disasters.

DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said the presence of the friendly spaces provided safe places for children to play while mothers continued to do their other roles like breastfeeding and other mother-related duties for their children.

“The establishment of women and child-friendly spaces is also integrated in evacuation camp management which aims to respond to the effects of displacement and vulnerability of women and children in natural and man-made crisis situations, such as disasters and incidents of armed conflict,” Soliman said.

The initiative started in 2013 in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Aside from being a safe place for children to engage in playing, reading, learning and drawing because of the interruption in their school classes, the mothers are also being thought in the friendly spaces about nutrition, and issues and topics related to well-being, women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based, and human trafficking.

Moreover, it is an ideal place for counseling and stress debriefing sessions that also help traumatized women cope with their situation and prepare them for eventual return to their communities.

Towards early recovery phase, the women-friendly serves also as a venue for livelihood training where women learns to create handicrafts or any other source of livelihood that they can use to help their husband augment the income.

In addition to that hygiene kits were also distributed in the friendly spaces containing basic necessities such women undergarments, napkins, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and pales that they can use in taking a bath or maintaining their cleanliness.

Through those spaces also set especially for them (women and children), the women and children are being informed on how to spot signs of human traffickers offering help or taking advantage during disasters and report them or enable them to be protected against sexual abuse and rape.

With the disasters like typhoon Pablo (Dec. 12, 2013), Zamboanga Siege (armed conflict between MILF and government forces on September 2013) and supertyphoon Yolanda on November 2013), where longer stay of evacuees in evacuation centers were witnessed, most of the people became familiar with women and child friendly spaces in evacuation centers and how they are serving the vulnerable women, children and even senior citizens/persons with disability (PWD).

DSWD, led by Soliman, shared such experiences to participants of the United Nations (UN) World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) currently held in Sendai, Japan.

The DSWD chief will also share the experiences in the implementation of cash for work (CFW) program and restoration of civil documents destroyed during disasters.

According to DSWD chief, she is also expecting to learn from the best practices of other countries on responses during and after disasters to reduce disaster risks.

She was with other delegates of other government agencies task on disaster management on the conference. (PNA)

RMA/LSJ

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