• Sexual & Reproductive Health

    Photo By: The IRC/Gerald Martone

    Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness

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    Natural disasters currently account for some 42.3 million of the world's displaced people, and the impact appears to be increasing each year. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by such disasters: 90 percent of those killed in the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh and 80 percent of those who died in the 2004 tsunami were women and girls. The gender difference in the loss of life after natural disasters is directly linked to women's poor economic and social status before the crisis, which limits their survival skills and their ability to receive warnings and stay out of harm's way.

    For women and girls who survive these events, the immediate consequences of a disaster—displacement, sexual violence and exploitation, disruptions in health services and the loss of financial security within a family unit—can lead to devastating, long-term effects and consequences. These include school drop-out, early and forced marriage, trauma, extra labor and work, increased rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, unintended pregnancy and lack of skilled attendance at birth. Such experiences compromise a woman or young girl's ability to realize her own rights over the long term, and immediately place her at higher risk for reproductive health illnesses and related death.

    Emergency preparedness efforts have the potential to improve resiliency, response and recovery efforts, and thereby protect women and girls when disaster strikes.

    Our Work

    Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Preparedness Facilitator's Kit

    Facilitator's Kit: Community Preparedness for Reproductive Health and Gender

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    • Since 2010, the Women's Refugee Commission has incorporated preparedness and planning for sexual and reproductive health needs in an emergency into our advocacy and in-country training activities.

    • We advocate for the involvement of communities (specifically women, girls and vulnerable groups) from the beginning stages of planning. By involving the most vulnerable populations, more equitable protection is achievable.

    • We have supported the training—before a crisis—of national-level teams and health providers in the Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP) of Reproductive Health in Crisis Situations, an international standard of care. Training takes place in partnership with the Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme in Crisis and Post-Crisis Situations in East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific (SPRINT) Initiative.

    • Our recent work on country-level emergency preparedness efforts can be reviewed through a summary report of the work conducted in Haiti, Uganda and South Sudan.

    • We also facilitate an official International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) reproductive health sub-working group. This group is working to develop tools that can assist individuals and teams at the national, sub-national and community levels to ensure that sexual and reproductive health is incorporated into emergency preparedness and response efforts.


    Tools and Resources