The Gender and Protection Cluster is providing essential sanitation supplies to women and girls whose lives have been turned upside down by Tropical Cyclones (TCs) Judy and Kevin and now face additional health and security risks.
Co-led by the Department of Women’s Affairs and CARE in Vanuatu, the Gender and Protection Cluster has brought together a team including representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Community Services and the Shefa Provincial Disaster Operations Centre to distribute dignity kits to women and girls living in evacuation centres around Efate.
More than 100 dignity kits were distributed to evacuation centres in Teouma Bush last week and an additional 120 kits were provided in Epau this week, with plans to distribute more over the coming weeks.
The kits, which were supplied with support from the UNFPA and the Australian Government, included women’s underwear, reusable sanitary products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath towels, combs, torches, backpacks, whistles, t-shirts, sandals and zip-top bags – essentials that many of the women have not had since they fled their homes more than a week ago as the first of the cyclones bore down on them.
Evette Soaare, one of the women who received a kit, says in a statement from CARE that the essentials are desperately needed.
”I want to thank you for coming to help us. We are extremely grateful for your assistance.
“We truly need these things – I’m so happy to have them,” she said.
Maena Matai, a young woman from Epau says the kits are very useful when there are so many other urgent financial priorities for households.
”This calamity has affected a lot of people, and we will need these things to stay clean. In disasters like this, many women will focus on other things to buy with their money, and many of us will find it challenging to purchase necessities like soap and menstrual pads. These kits will benefit all of us,” she said.
The Principal of Nakuanapu Primary School in Teouma Bush, Meriam Nemariango, says the supplies are especially critical because families in the areas have lost their primary source of income—their vegetable gardens.
As the nation picks up the pieces after the twin cyclones that left an estimated 150,000 people across the country in need of humanitarian assistance, CARE and the Gender and Protection Cluster are committed to ensuring that the needs of women, girls, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups are heard and met through the emergency response. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by disasters like these cyclones, facing additional risk from the loss of the safety of their homes, the limited sanitation facilities, security, privacy and basic supplies at evacuation centres, and elevated financial and emotional stress within their families.
CARE is also supporting Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office to assess the damage from the cyclones in Efate and Tafea province, two of the most heavily affected areas, and coordinate the emergency response. Distributions of shelter equipment such as tarpaulins and ropes are also underway.
CARE has been working in Vanuatu since 2008 and is working through our established networks and programs to provide urgent aid and information to people affected by the cyclones.