ReliefWeb - Updates

ReliefWeb - Updates

Descriptive text is not available for this image

ReliefWeb - Updates

Solomon Islands: Gender-Responsive Budgeting: empowering Civil Society Organisations with a new advocacy tool

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 04:11:44 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Solomon Islands
Sources: European Commission, UN Women

Please refer to the attached file.

Honiara, Solomon Islands - How much money is spent on ending violence against women and girls, advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment? What is the cost of violence to families, communities and Pacific Island countries?

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on gender equality and ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG) joined a workshop in Honiara, Solomon Islands last week to learn more about calculating the cost of violence and the role of gender-responsive budgeting in ensuring that organisations, Ministries and the Government deliver on long term gender equality and women’s empowerment goals across the various sectors.

The two-day workshop, organised by the Family Support Centre (FSC) in cooperation with UN Women, and with the support of the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative, involved participants from the FSC provincial committees working in EVAWG, representatives from the National and Provincial Council of Women, and members from other women-led organisations.

“The Solomon Islands Government has made huge commitments to progress gender equality through policies and legislation. However, there are immense challenges in translating these commitments into our national budgetary processes,” said Vaela Ngai, Director for the Women’s Development Division, Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.

“This workshop is very important to ensure civil society organizations understand our budgetary processes and can play a key role in advocating for gender-responsive budgeting”, concluded Vaela Ngai.

In recent years, Solomon Island has committed to gender equality across several policies, at the national and regional levels. These include the 2016 Solomon Islands Gender Equality and Women Development Policy, with one outcome focused on whole-of-government gender mainstreaming, and the Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls Policy 2016-2020.

Gender -responsive budgeting is an effective tool in helping progress gender mainstreaming within the Government.

Gender-responsive budgeting seeks to ensure that the collection and allocation of public resources is carried out in ways that are effective and contribute to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is not about creating separate budgets for women, or solely increasing spending on women’s programmes.

“This workshop enables participants to analyze any budget presented, be it at the CSO’s or provincial government level, and understand whether it is budget-support to the work on gender or truly transformative gender-responsive budget,” said Lorio Sisiolo, Manager, Family Support Centre.

Along with legislation, and other policy measures, GRB analysis is foundational to addressing gender bias and discrimination. It is a step not only toward accountability for women’s rights, but also towards greater public transparency, it can shift economic policies leading to gains across societies.

“Women organizations collectively have an important responsibility to ensure GRB as a tool is effectively used to monitor and track progress in how the allocation of national budgets and resources benefit all genders. I felt empowered with the new knowledge on GRB that I learned today,” said Phillistus Fafoi, Board Member, National Council of Women.

Participants from the various sectors shared their views on the benefits of GRB and the training that would be incorporated into their work.

“As a provincial government representative, this workshop has incredibly contributed to my understanding of GRB. This training has expanded my knowledge of what a proper genderresponsive budget planning looks like. I look forward to returning to my province and sharing this knowledge with the provincial public accounts committee and heads of provincial government departments who are directly involved in provincial government budgeting processes,” said Lissy Wong Benet, Women’s Development Division officer, Western Provincial government.

“CSOs and government entities’ capacity in GRB must be strengthened for effective genderresponsive budgeting to happen. CSOs have a key role to hold governments accountable in GRB”, concluded Lissy Wong Benet.

“I now understand what GRB is about. As a frontline GBV service provider, I provide counseling services and GBV awareness in rural communities. This training has given me new insights on how important it is that I think about how women, men, boys and girls, and vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities are inclusively benefiting”, said Janet Havibrou, FSC provincial representative.

“GRB can be effectively implemented if decision-makers and key people involved in budgetary processes understand this concept well and appreciate how it benefits all genders”, she concluded

High-resolution images are available here.

Ends.

About The Spotlight Initiative

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a major obstacle to the fulfillment of women’s and girls’ human rights and development and a threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

To address the challenges of VAWG, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) embarked on a global multi-year programme- the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. Backed by a financial investment of EUR 500 million, the Initiative operates in five regions (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific). The Spotlight Initiative aims to support transformative change on the ground to end violence against women and girls and harmful practices, in numerous countries globally. The Spotlight Initiative in the Pacific region is implemented through UN agencies and a range of development partners including Civil Society Organisations and governments, with a focus on eliminating VAWG, including intimate partner violence and domestic violence. 

For media queries please contact: Cristina Comunian - cristina.comunian@one.un.org

Full Story

World: Multi-country monkeypox outbreak: Situation Update (27 June 2022)

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 04:09:59 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: World
Source: World Health Organization

Please refer to the attached file.

This Disease Outbreak News on the multi-country monkeypox outbreak is an update to the previously published editions and provides an update on the epidemiological situation, further information on the use of therapeutics, as well as on the outcomes of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country monkeypox outbreak held on 23 June.

Outbreak at a glance

Since 1 January and as of 22 June 2022, 3413 laboratory confirmed cases and one death have been reported to WHO from 50 countries/territories in five WHO Regions.    

Since the previous Disease Outbreak News of 17 June was published, 1310 new cases have been reported and eight new countries have reported cases.

Description of the outbreak

The majority of laboratory confirmed cases (2933/3413; 86%) were reported from the WHO European Region. Other regions reporting cases include: the African Region (73/3413, 2%), Region of the Americas (381/3413, 11%), Eastern Mediterranean Region (15/3413, <1%) and Western Pacific Region (11/3413, <1%).  One death was reported in Nigeria in the second quarter of 2022.

The case count is expected to change as more information becomes available daily and data are verified under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) (Table 1).

Public health response

Overall response

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation, and support international coordination and information sharing with Member States and partners. Clinical and public health incident response have been activated by Member States to coordinate comprehensive case finding, contact tracing, laboratory investigation, isolation, clinical management and implementation of infection and prevention and control measures. Genomic sequencing of viral deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the monkeypox virus found in the current outbreak is ongoing, where available; preliminary data from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays indicate that the monkeypox virus genes detected belong to the West African clade.  

Vaccines

WHO has strongly encouraged Member States to consider the context of the current multi-country outbreak of monkeypox and convene their national immunization technical advisory groups (NITAGs) to review the evidence and develop policy recommendations for the use of vaccines as relevant to the national context. All decisions around immunization with smallpox or monkeypox vaccines (pre-emptive or post-exposure) should be by shared clinical decision-making, based on a joint assessment of risks and benefits, between a health care provider and prospective vaccinee, on a case-by-case basis. Member States using vaccines against monkeypox are encouraged to do so within a framework of collaborative clinical studies using standardized design methods and data collection tools for clinical and outcome data to rapidly increase evidence generation, especially on vaccine effectiveness and safety.

Therapeutics

Tecorivimat is an antiviral drug with recent regulatory approval from the European Medicines Agency for orthopovirus-associated infections, including monkeypox, based on animal models and data for safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in humans. Therefore, it is expected that reliable and interpretable results on its safety and efficacy will soon become available.

Outcomes of the Emergency Committee

The International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee met on 23 June 2022 regarding the multi-country monkeypox outbreak to advise the WHO Director-General on whether it constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The committee advised the WHO Director-General that the outbreak should not constitute a PHEIC at this stage, however, the Committee acknowledged the emergency nature of the event and that controlling the further spread of this outbreak requires intense response efforts. They advised that the event should be closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks, when additional information about the current unknowns (e.g., incubation period, the role of sexual transmission, etc.) become available, to determine if significant changes have occurred that may warrant a reconsideration of their advice.

The Committee advised the WHO Director-General that Member States should collaborate with each other and with WHO in providing the required assistance through bilateral, regional or multilateral channels, and should follow the guidance provided by WHO (see the list of documents at the bottom of the page).

The Director-General accepted the advice of the Committee, adding in a statement that the situation requires collective attention and coordinated action now to stop the further spread, using public health measures including surveillance, contact-tracing, isolation and care of patients, and ensuring health tools like vaccines and treatments are available to at-risk populations and shared fairly.

WHO risk assessment

The overall risk is assessed as moderate at global level considering this is the first time that cases and clusters are reported concurrently in five WHO Regions. At the regional level, the risk is considered to be high in the European Region due to its report of a geographically widespread outbreak involving several newly-affected countries, as well as a somewhat atypical clinical presentation of cases. In other WHO Regions, the risk is considered moderate with consideration for epidemiological patterns, possible risk of importation of cases and capacities to detect cases and respond to the outbreak. In newly-affected countries, this is the first time that cases have mainly, but not exclusively, been confirmed among men who have had recent sexual contact with a new or multiple partners. 

The unexpected appearance of monkeypox and the wide geographic spread of cases indicate that the monkeypox virus might have been circulating below levels detectable by the surveillance systems and sustained human-to-human transmission might have been undetected for a period of time. Routes of monkeypox virus transmission include human-to-human via direct contact with infectious skin or mucocutaneous lesions, respiratory droplets (and possibly short-range aerosols) or indirect contact from contaminated objects or materials, also described as fomite transmission. Vertical transmission (mother-to-child) has also been documented. While it is known that close physical contact can lead to transmission, it is unclear whether sexual transmission via semen/vaginal fluids occurs, research is currently underway to understand this. In addition, the likelihood of sustained community transmission cannot be ruled out and the extent to which pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic infection may occur as the infectious period is unknown, as well as the further spread of monkeypox virus among persons with multiple sexual partners in interconnected networks and the likely role of mass gatherings.

The clinical presentation of monkeypox cases associated with this outbreak has been atypical as compared to previously documented reports: many cases in newly-affected areas are not presenting with the classically described clinical picture for monkeypox (fever, swollen lymph nodes, followed by centrifugal rash).

Atypical features described include:

  • presentation of only a few or even just a single lesion
  • absence of skin lesions in some cases, with anal pain and bleeding
  • lesions in the genital or perineal/perianal area which do not spread further
  • lesions appearing at different (asynchronous) stages of development
  • the appearance of lesions before the onset of fever, malaise and other constitutional symptoms (absence of prodromal period).

The actual number of cases is likely to be underestimated, in part due to the lack of early clinical recognition of an infection previously known in only a handful of countries, and limited enhanced surveillance mechanisms in many countries for a disease previously ‘unknown’ to most health systems. Health care-associated infections cannot be ruled out (although unproven to date in the current outbreak). There is a potential for increased health impact with wider dissemination in vulnerable groups as the mortality was previously reported as higher among children and young adults, and immunocompromised individuals, including people living with uncontrolled HIV infection, are especially at risk of severe disease.

The risk is also represented by the difficulties involved in widespread lack of availability of laboratory diagnostics, antivirals and vaccines and as well as in ensuring adequate biosafety and biosecurity in diagnostic, clinical and referral laboratories everywhere that cases have occurred.

A large part of the population is vulnerable to monkeypox virus, as smallpox vaccination, which is expected to provide some protection against monkeypox has been discontinued since the 1980s. Only a relatively small number of military, frontline health professionals and laboratory workers have been vaccinated against smallpox in recent years. A third-generation vaccine MVA received authorization of use by the European Medicines Agency for smallpox. The authorization of use provided by Health Canada and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes an indication for the prevention of monkeypox. An antiviral agent, tecovirimat, has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, Health Canada, and the United States FDA for the treatment of smallpox. It is also approved for use in the European Union for the treatment of monkeypox.

WHO advice

All countries should be on the alert for signals related to patients presenting with a rash that progresses in sequential stages – macules, papules, vesicles, pustules, scabs, at the same stage of development over all affected areas of the body – that may be associated with fever, enlarged lymph nodes, back pain, and muscle aches.

In addition, during this current outbreak, many individuals are presenting with atypical symptoms which includes a localized rash that may include as little as one lesion. The appearance of lesions may be asynchronous, and persons may have primarily or exclusively peri-genital and/or peri-anal distribution associated with local, painful swollen lymph nodes. Some patients may also present with sexually transmitted infections and should be tested and treated appropriately. These individuals may present to various community and health care settings including, but not limited to, primary and secondary care, fever clinics, sexual health services, infectious disease units, obstetrics and gynaecology, emergency departments, surgical specialties and dermatology clinics.

Clinical management and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in health care and community settings

Caring for patients with suspected or confirmed monkeypox requires early recognition through screening protocols adapted to local settings, prompt, isolation and rapid implementation of appropriate IPC measures (standard and transmission-based precautions, including the addition of respirator use for health workers caring for patients with suspected /or monkeypox, and an emphasis on safe handling of linen and management of the environment), testing to confirm diagnosis, symptomatic management of patients with mild or uncomplicated monkeypox and monitoring for and treatment of complications and life-threatening conditions such as progression of skin lesions, secondary bacterial infection of skin lesions, ocular lesions, and rarely, severe dehydration, severe pneumonia or sepsis. Patients with less severe monkeypox who isolate at home require careful assessment of the ability to safely isolate and maintain required IPC precautions in their home to prevent transmission to other household and community members.

To enable reliable evaluations of interventions, randomized trials using CORE protocols are the preferable approach. Unless there are compelling reasons not to do so, every effort should be made to implement randomized trial designs. It is feasible to conduct placebo-controlled studies, especially in low-risk individuals. Harmonised data collection for safety and clinical outcomes using WHO's Global Clinical Platform for Monkeypox, would represent a desirable minimum dataset in the context of an outbreak, including the current event.

Precautions (isolation and IPC measures) should remain in place until lesions have crusted, scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath.

Laboratory testing and sample management

Any individual meeting the definition for a suspected case should be offered testing. The decision to test should be based on both clinical and epidemiological factors, linked to an assessment of the likelihood of infection. Due to the range of conditions that cause skin rashes and because clinical presentation may more often be atypical in this outbreak, it can be challenging to differentiate monkeypox solely based on the clinical presentation.

Risk communication and community engagement

Communicating monkeypox-related risks and engaging at-risk and affected communities, community leaders, civil society organizations, and health care providers, including those at sexual health clinics, on prevention, detection and care, is essential for preventing further secondary cases and effective management of the current outbreak.

For further information on risk communication for contacts, suspected and confirmed cases, and individuals who develop symptoms suggestive of monkeypox, please see the Disease Outbreak News published 17 June 2022.

Anyone caring for a person infected with monkeypox should use appropriate personal protective measures. As a precaution, WHO suggests the use of condoms consistently during sexual activity (receptive and insertive oral/anal/vaginal) for 12 weeks post-recovery to reduce the potential transmission of monkeypox for which the risk is currently not known.

Misinformation: The public is reminded that rumors and incorrect information continue to circulate on social media and other platforms regarding the current outbreak, and that it is important to check facts with credible sources such as WHO or national health authorities.

One Health

Various wild mammals have been identified as susceptible to monkeypox virus in areas that have previously reported monkeypox. These include rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, non-human primates, among others. Some species may have asymptomatic infection. Other species, such as monkeys and great apes, show skin rashes typical of those found in humans. Thus far, there is no documented evidence of domestic animals or livestock being affected by monkeypox virus. There is also no documented evidence of human-to-animal transmission of monkeypox. However, this remains a hypothetical risk. Therefore, appropriate measures should be taken, such as:

  • physical distancing between people infected with monkeypox and domestic pets
  • proper waste management to prevent the disease from being transmitted from infected humans to susceptible animals at home (including pets), in zoos and wildlife reserves, and to peri-domestic animals, especially rodents.
  • residents and travellers to countries that have previously reported monkeypox should avoid contact with sick mammals such as rodents, marsupials, non-human primates (dead or alive) that could harbor monkeypox virus and should refrain from eating or handling wild game (bush meat).

International travel and points of entry

Based on available information at this time, WHO does not recommend that States Parties adopt any measures that restrict international traffic for either incoming or outgoing travellers.

  • Any individual feeling unwell, including having a fever with rash-like illness, or who is considered a suspected or confirmed case of monkeypox by jurisdictional health authorities, should avoid undertaking non-essential travel, including international, until declared as no longer constituting a public health risk.
  • Any individual who has developed a rash-like illness during travel or upon return should immediately report to a health professional, providing information about all recent travel, immunization history including whether they have received smallpox vaccine or other vaccines (e.g., measles-mumps-rubella, varicella zoster vaccine, to support making a diagnosis), and information on close contacts as per WHO interim guidance on surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing for monkeypox.

Public health officials should work with travel operators and public health counterparts in other locations to contact passengers and others who may have had contact with an infectious person while travelling. Health promotion and risk communication materials should be available at points of entry, including information on how to identify signs and symptoms consistent with monkeypox; on the precautionary measures recommended to prevent its spread; and on how to seek medical care at the place of destination when needed.

WHO urges all Member States, health authorities at all levels, clinicians, health and social sector partners, and academic, research and commercial partners to respond quickly to contain local spread and, by extension, the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox. Rapid action must be taken before the virus can be allowed to establish itself as a human pathogen with efficient person-to-person transmission in areas that have previously reported monkeypox, as well as in newly affected areas.

Full Story

Uganda: Joint Monitoring Report in Refugee Hosting Districts, October 2021

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 03:42:24 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Uganda
Sources: Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale, International Organization for Migration, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran World Federation, Medical Teams International, Save the Children, Uganda Red Cross, UN Children's Fund, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Population Fund, World Food Programme, World Health Organization

Please refer to the attached file.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Joint Monitoring Report provides an analysis of the health sector performance in respect to refugee health focusing on quality of serviced delivery, level of integration of refugee health in the public health system, access to essential health care by host communities, challenges and mitigation measures to address them.

The finding and challenges identified are based on the health systems building blocks that describe the health system according to WHO framework, categorized under the HSIRRP as strategic interventions in line with the National Health Policy and Ministry of Health Strategic Plan. These building blocks include; Service delivery, Medical products, vaccines and technologies, health workforce, health information systems, health systems financing and leadership and governance. There has been overall improvement in the integration of refugee health services as well as the quality of health services however there is strong need for multi-sectoral coordination.

The Recommendations made from the Joint Monitoring Report focus on reprogramming community-based delivery systems and strengthening the medicines supply chain to ensure proper quantification, timely procurement, redistribution, prepositioning and management of medicines and medical supplies.

Full Story

Impact of COVID-19 on women workers in the urban informal economy in Uganda and Kenya

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:44:06 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Kenya, Uganda
Source: International Center for Research on Women

Please refer to the attached file.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Globally, 2 billion of the world’s employed population aged 15 and older work informally, representing 61.2 percent of global employment, with the vast majority of employment in Africa (85.8 percent) being informal (ILO, 2018). In Uganda, nearly 14 million or 98 percent of Uganda’s total working-age population is engaged in the informal sector; of these, 87 percent are women workers. The informal sector has, for the last decade, consistently contributed more than 55 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Kenya, the informal sector by 2019 provided a livelihood to approximately 15 million people and absorbed up to 88 percent of the women workers, according to the International Labour Organization.

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is implementing REBUILD, a research project that seeks to understand how the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and policy response affected informal women workers of Kenya and Uganda. ICRW undertook a review of secondary data on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on informal women workers in Kenya and Uganda. This report presents summary findings and recommendations from our study, we conducted an analytical review of data from institutional reports, published articles, journal papers, policy reports, and secondary data analysis. What follows is a summary of our findings.

Findings

In addition to straining global health systems beyond capacity, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a major economic crisis exemplified in job losses, wage cuts, majorly shuttering the informal enterprises, and informal workforce, the majority of whom are women. Almost 1.6 billion workers in the informal sector were significantly impacted by lockdown measures. In low-income countries, 28 percent of women were working in high-risk sectors, compared to only 17 percent of men. A FinMark Trust survey found that 41 percent of women-owned businesses in SubSaharan Africa closed during the pandemic, compared to 34 percent for businesses owned by men. In Uganda, informal women account owners in the hospitality and trading and services sectors would be significantly affected by the crisis at 79 percent and 54 percent, respectively. In Kenya, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) household survey found that 51.2 percent of women had been rendered jobless due to the pandemic. More young women had to close a business (28 percent) than young men (21 percent) (PMA Gender, 2020).

Pre-COVID, the gender gap in unpaid care work closely mirrored that of work for pay or profit, where women spent three times more than men in unpaid care work; however, the pandemic further accelerated the care burden. In June 2020, a CGD report indicated that 23 percent of women business owners surveyed across the globe reported spending six or more hours per day on care work compared to 11 percent of men. A UN Gender report of January 2021 in Kenya ascertained that a higher proportion of women than men spent more time in unpaid care work. This may have led many women to permanently exit the labor market and/or increased women’s stress levels and took a toll on their mental health outcomes.

The pandemic affected food security. The COVID-19 gender assessment in Kenya found that more women than men had to either eat less or skip a meal (33 percent and 31 percent, respectively) or go hungry without food (12 percent and 10 percent, respectively). A report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) on the consumer price index for April 2020 indicated that food prices increased by 4.8 percent. Most families had to implement multiple coping strategies during the pandemic. Some households relied on savings and more on reducing consumption, selling off assets, borrowing money from different sources, credit purchases. Others engaged in additional income activities, and received assistance from family, friends, government, and CSOs.

The World Bank reaffirms that the shift in resources towards addressing a public health emergency can disrupt key health services for women and girls, including reproductive and sexual health services. COVID-19 affected the access and utilization of SRH services. Data from the national DHIS systems indicates that overall, there was a decrease in pregnant women accessing ANC and maternal counseling services a decrease in post-natal attendance for new mothers. Fewer people used modern family planning during the initial months of the pandemic, including shortterm and long-term acting contraceptives.

A 2020 UN Women report noted that in the previous 12 months, 243 million women and girls aged 15 to 49 across the world had been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner. COVID-19 containment measures exacerbated women’s and girls’ exposure to gender-based violence. The national GBV-hotline-1195 of Kenya received an increase of 25 percent cases in September 2020 compared to the month prior. Recent studies suggest that many cases went unreported to authorities because of restrictive measures that curtailed the victims’ movements.

Conclusion

There is still a statistical gap on the extent of the impact of the pandemic on informal women workers in the urban economies of Kenya and Uganda. Therefore, researchers and other multilevel stakeholders should engage in providing gendered statistics on the effects of the pandemic on the informal sector that will guide policy actors in making gendered policies supporting the recovery of the informal sector, which has proved to be crucial to the economy.

Full Story

World: A call for citizen science in pandemic preparedness and response: beyond data collection

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:25:32 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: World
Source: British Medical Journal

Please refer to the attached file.

Yi-Roe Tan, Anurag Agrawal, Malebona Precious Matsoso, Rebecca Katz, Sara L M Davis, Andrea Sylvia Winkler, Annalena Huber, Ashish Joshi, Ayman El-Mohandes, Bruce Mellado, Caroline Antonia Mubaira, Felipe C Canlas, Gershim Asiki, Harjyot Khosa, Jeffrey Victor Lazarus, Marc Choisy, Mariana Recamonde-Mendoza, Olivia Keiser, Patrick Okwen, Rene English, Serge Stinckwich, Sylvia Kiwuwa-Muyingo, Tariro Kutadza, Tavpritesh Sethi, Thuso Mathaha, Vinh Kim Nguyen, Amandeep Gill, Peiling Yap

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need to partner with the community in pandemic preparedness and response in order to enable trust-building among stakeholders, which is key in pandemic management. Citizen science, defined here as a practice of public participation and collaboration in all aspects of scientific research to increase knowledge and build trust with governments and researchers, is a crucial approach to promoting community engagement. By harnessing the potential of digitally enabled citizen science, one could translate data into accessible, comprehensible and actionable outputs at the population level. The application of citizen science in health has grown over the years, but most of these approaches remain at the level of participatory data collection. This narrative review examines citizen science approaches in participatory data generation, modelling and visualisation, and calls for truly participatory and co-creation approaches across all domains of pandemic preparedness and response. Further research is needed to identify approaches that optimally generate short-term and long-term value for communities participating in population health. Feasible, sustainable and contextualised citizen science approaches that meaningfully engage affected communities for the long-term will need to be inclusive of all populations and their cultures, comprehensive of all domains, digitally enabled and viewed as a key component to allow trust-building among the stakeholders. The impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives has created an opportune time to advance people’s agency in science, particularly in pandemic preparedness and response.

SUMMARY BOX

  • The ideal state of citizen science should see researchers, communities and policymakers collaborate, co-create and share ownership in all aspects of research, towards translating data into comprehensible and actionable outputs at the population level.

  • While data collection and mathematical models are on the rise in health decision making, there is a lack of effort to develop effective approaches to participatory modelling and community engagement in data visualisation and communication.

  • By empowering communities through shared knowledge-making and bidirectional communication, citizen science could be a bridge to build trust among communities, researchers and policymakers in a collective decision-making process.

  • Citizen science approaches enabled by digital technologies have the potential to go beyond data generation to improve transparency and accuracy of modelling, communications and collaborative policy development.

  • We need to be mindful of systemic barriers and social, economic and political inequities when implementing digitally enabled citizen science approaches, to avoid widening existing health disparities.

Full Story

What India can learn from globally successful malaria elimination programmes

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:14:16 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, China, El Salvador, India, Maldives, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan
Source: British Medical Journal

Please refer to the attached file.

Sachin Sharma, Reena Verma, Bhawna Yadav, Amit Kumar, Manju Rahi, Amit Sharma

Abstract

India is targeting malaria elimination by 2030. Understanding and adopting the strategies employed by countries that have successfully eliminated malaria can serve as a crucial thrust in this direction for a geographically diverse country like India. This analysis is based on extensive literature search on malaria elimination policies, strategies and programmes adopted by nine countries (China, El Salvador, Algeria, Argentina, Uzbekistan, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Armenia) which have attained malaria-free status over the past decade. The key points which India can learn from their journey are mandatory time-bound response in the form of case reporting and management, rapid vector control response, continuous epidemiological and entomological surveillance, elevated community participation, more training and capacity building, private sector involvement, use of quality diagnostics, cross-border collaborations, inclusion of prevention of re-establishment programmes into the elimination plans, higher investment in research, and uninterrupted funds for successful implementation of malaria elimination programmes. These learnings would help India and other South Asian countries steer their programmes by devising tailor-made strategies for their own regions.

SUMMARY BOX

  • By 2021, 40 countries have been certified by the WHO as malaria-free. There are 85 malaria-endemic countries, with an estimated 241million cases in 2020.

  • India continues to show a sustained decline in overall malaria but faces several challenges in its malaria elimination journey.

  • An overview of malaria elimination strategies which were central to the success achieved by nine countries in the past decade is presented here. Some of these can be emulated by India and other South Asian countries to overcome the challenges in their elimination drive.

  • Barriers to smooth adoption of these strategies in the Indian programme have also been described.

Full Story

World: Asia-Pacific nations on accelerated push for rural digitalization to achieve SDGs

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:09:09 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Thailand, World
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FAO Director-General underlines range of different models and Organization’s crucial role in spreading knowledge

27/06/2022, Bangkok – Rapid acceleration of digitalization in rural communities in Asia and the Pacific is critical for regaining momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), government policy makers agreed at the conclusion of a one-day event on the subject, convened today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

More than 200 participants joined the virtual ‘FAO Digital Village Knowledge Sharing and Dialogue,’ a regional follow-up to advance collective knowledge on implementing digital technologies across rural landscapes, in towns and villages across the Asia-Pacific region. The event was convened in support of FAO’s 1,000 Digital Village Initiative, launched at FAO headquarters in January 2021.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said that the aim of the Asia-Pacific pilot programme was to learn from many countries' successful experiences and good practices and share these experiences with others.

The event highlighted how the rapid spread of internet access and applications of digital technologies in the region’s agricultural rural areas have resulted in better production, better nutrition, mitigation of damage to the environment and overall improvements to livelihoods of millions of people in the vast Asia-Pacific region.

The FAO Director-General addressed the event and government Ministers from various countries across the region gave accounts of good practices and methodologies in place in their rural communities and villages to leverage latest digital technologies to improve production and livelihoods of all, particularly farmers, fishers and herders.

Among the high level participants in the event were Bangladesh’s Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque; Syahrul Yasin Limpo, Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia; Zagdjav Mendsaikhan; Mongolia’s Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry; Chung Hwang-keun, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs from the Republic of Korea and La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Samoa.

Qu underlined the three dimensions of the digital village:

  • For agricultural production: e-Agriculture focuses on improving productivity by using Information and Communications Technologies and relevant digital solutions;
  • For farmers’ lives: “Digital Farmer Services” focus on enhancing farmers access to different kinds of social and economic services including financial services, social protection and employment; and
  • For the village: Digital Services support rural transformation by enhancing delivery of public services on health, education, jobs, welfare and tourism, including eco-tourism and agri-tourism.

“In Asia and the Pacific, there are several models to develop and foster the digitalization of rural areas”. He cited countries including China and India, where he said digitalization of rural areas is extensive. “FAO has a critical role to play in offering this knowledge to our Members in a useful and usable way, including through new tools and methodologies to carry out field studies when needed,” Qu added.

Examples of successful digital villages from several countries in Asia were showcased, many through vivid stories from the ground. In Bangladesh, digital services and solutions to support farming and empower rural women are being deployed, leveraging increased access and use of smartphones and internet. In Indonesia, digital innovations that improve aquaculture are spreading among fisher folks and villages in West Java and elsewhere. In Thailand, a number of ‘smart farming’ innovations are being piloted and are benefitting farmers and rural communities, including those living with disability. More examples of innovative and transformative digital technologies were drawn from the Republic of Korea’s advanced smart agriculture, to Mongolia’s important livestock sector embracing digital innovations. The event also showcased examples of digital village stories from outside the region including some from Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Near East.

Among the themes emphasized was the multi-actor and multi-disciplinary nature of the digitalization process, needing to go beyond physical technologies and explore whole digital ecosystems by focusing on creating enabling conditions, policies and regulations that facilitate rural transformation. A crucial part of this is breaking down digital gaps, removing obstacles to wider participation and providing better access to data and information.

Digital Village Knowledge Sharing and Exchange Platform

Participants were presented with a first glimpse of an FAO constructed ‘Digital Village Knowledge Sharing and Exchange Platform’ designed to be a one-stop ‘village square’ where best practices of hundreds of digital villages and their technologies could be displayed. The platform would also serve as a place for exchange and dialogue.

FAO is working to develop the platform for all digital innovations, digital village initiatives, best practices, and knowledge sources to be easily accessible and publicly shared as part of efforts to achieve the SDGs, particularly to benefit those in the most inaccessible rural areas of the Asia-Pacific region.

https://www.fao.org/newsroom/detail/asia-pacific-nations-on-push-for-rural...

Contact

FAO News and Media
(+39) 06 570 53625
FAO-Newsroom@fao.org

Full Story

Ethiopia: Concern calls for urgent international funding to avert major humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:03:26 +0000

Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan
Source: Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide today called for urgent international funding to assist communities in the Horn of Africa experiencing the worst drought in 40 years, in order to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the coming months.

Over 23 million people are currently in need of humanitarian support in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan, after four failed rainy seasons over the last two years. Worryingly, early forecasts indicate that the main rainy season this October-December will also fail.

An estimated five million children in the region are malnourished, with 1.6 million experiencing severe malnutrition, putting their lives at risk. “Without an urgent response and scaling up of the humanitarian support, we risk 350,000 of these children dying,” Concern’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa, Amina Abdulla warned today.

“Scaling up of the emergency response to the drought is more important now than it has ever been, given the numbers we are looking at and what is anticipated in a few months,” Ms Abdulla said. “We need to scale up to prevent the situation deteriorating further, or else we will surely not be able to cope with the numbers who will need assistance in the coming months.”

During the drought of 2011 in the region, 13 million people needed humanitarian support, in a famine which resulted in 260,000 deaths in Somalia. Currently there are 17 million people in need of humanitarian support in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia – and this figure is expected to rise to 20 million by September, she noted.

Ms Abdulla said that an estimated 500,000 people are currently at risk of famine in the region. The number of cases of Cholera and Measles is also rising.

“The drought is taking a huge toll on livestock, with 1.2 million animals lost in Kenya over the last 18 months,” she said. “Some 30% of livestock have died during the current drought in Somalia – a country where animals provide 80% of the country’s income.”

Concern’s Country Director in Kenya Arshad Muhammad said the loss of livestock had led to displacement and dependence on humanitarian assistance of people in the country.

“The most vulnerable have been forced to reduce the amount of food they eat each day, as a fourth failed rainy season and the crisis in Ukraine has led to shortages of food and highly inflated prices. We are seeing a significant increase in the number of children under five requiring emergency treatment but there simply aren’t enough resources to meet the need, particularly in remote areas.”

The drought is also taking a major toll in Ethiopia. “Over eight million people rely on livestock for their livelihoods but two million animals have perished and another 22 million are at risk of dying - they are weak and producing little milk, the main source of nutrition for children,” Concern’s Ethiopia Country Director Barbara White said.

“We focus on building people’s ability to cope with emergencies but this situation is now beyond that, and with rains expected to be below average in the coming season, it is a race against time to save people by providing basic food, water and medical care.”

The UN estimates that it will cost $4.4 billion to provide the necessary humanitarian support in the region up until August. However, to date the international response by donors to appeals has fallen far short of targets.

The appeal for Somalia was just 27% funded, with the same response rate for South Sudan. Just 34% of the necessary funding was pledged for Kenya, while no fresh funding was pledged for Ethiopia.

As part of its emergency response to the drought, Concern Worldwide has reached 2.5m people with a range of assistance including over 100,000 children through nutrition interventions. It has scaled up its operations to reach an additional 1.5 million people since April. Its focus has been on providing cash support for families (to enable them buy essentials such as water and food) and protecting key services such as health and nutrition services.

Ms Abdulla said Concern’s country teams in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan were planning for the rest of 2022 and 2023: “We need to protect lives and assets and help communities prepare for the next rainy season in April, 2023.”

For more information or interview requests contact Eilis Staunton on 085-872 0720 or by email: eilis.staunton@concern.net

Full Story

World: Gender analysis in non-traditional sectors: Climate and disaster risk finance and insurance

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 01:01:48 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: World
Source: UN Women

Please refer to the attached file.

Gender analysis was identified as the fundamental starting point for gender mainstreaming in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and the 1997 agreed conclusions of the UN Economic and Social Council. It constitutes the first and foundational requirement of all efforts to mainstream gender equality perspectives into all work of the UN system.

Gender analysis is now commonly embedded in programmatic work in socio-economic sectors often traditionally associated with women, such as education and health. Yet, significant gaps remain in the incorporation of gender perspectives in emergent and less traditional thematic areas, such as climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and insurance, among others.

This publication, developed in consultation with the Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality, is part of a capacity-building initiative aimed at enhancing the capacity of sector specialists and gender focal points to produce and utilize gender analysis in their work. The focus in this guide is Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance (CDRFI), a thematic area where gender analysis has been less widely implemented than in some other sectors.

This guide is relevant for a variety of international development interventions, supporting CDRFI use for and with partner governments in programmes such as a National Adaptation Plan advisory, national disaster risk management and disaster risk financing strategies, and in areas such as financial inclusion, insurance, and agriculture, among others.

The guidance provides practical tips, steps, and checklists to conduct a gender analysis and examples of good practices.

Full Story

Afghanistan: Pathways to Adaptation and Resilience in South and South‑West Asia - Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2022 for ESCAP Subregions

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:33:59 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Türkiye
Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Please refer to the attached file.

CHAPTER 1 The shifting contours of the South and South-West Asia disaster riskscape

Key Highlights

  • The South and South-West Asia disaster risk landscape (‘riskscape’) is being reshaped by cascading and converging hazards under the disaster-climate-health nexus, increasing the vulnerability of populations to such hazards.

  • In South and South-West Asia, the total average annual loss (AAL) is estimated at US$ 161 billion in the current climate condition. This estimate increases to $217 billion under the moderate climate change scenario (RCP 4.5) and to $322 billion under the worst-case climate change scenario (RCP 8.5) (2020– 2059 projections).

  • South and South-West Asia witnessed an increased cascading risk of climate-related and vector-borne diseases, like dengue.

  • The projected economic losses from natural and biological hazards will impact the achievement of SDG 13 (all targets), SDG 14 (Target 14.2), and SDG 15 (Target 15.3) with ripple effects on SDG 1 (Target 1.5), SDG 2 (Target 2.4), SDG 3 (Target 3.d), SDG 9 (Target 9.1) and SDG 11 (Target 11.5).

Full Story

Ensuring energy stability for hospitals in Ukraine

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:14:20 +0000

Country: Ukraine
Source: UNOPS

UNOPS is working with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to provide generators to hospitals in Ukraine.

According to the World Health Organization, there had been more than 260 verified attacks on health facilities at the 100-day mark of the conflict in Ukraine. These attacks have resulted in substantial damage to Ukraine's healthcare infrastructure.

With funding from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOPS will procure more than 100 generators and will work closely with Ukraine's Ministry of Health to identify and deliver the generators to the hospitals that need them the most.

The generators will help strengthen the capacity of Ukrainian hospitals to provide critical and life-saving health services by ensuring they have an independent source of energy if they are cut off from the national energy grid.

"These generators will help ensure that emergency lights, intensive care units, operating rooms, emergency medical services departments, water pumps and other health services can continue to function." Gianni Volpin - UNOPS Country Manager in Ukraine

“The [...] generators received from the United Nations will allow the operation of two hospital buildings at once," said Dmytro Dmytryshyn, Deputy Chief Physician at Svitlovodsk Central District Hospital, which has already received two generators.

"This is extremely important for maintaining our energy stability, especially given the martial law imposed," he added.

Full Story

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society - Population Movement Operation (PMO), Cox's Bazar, Operational Update - May 2022

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:09:39 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
Source: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Please refer to the attached file.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society continues Population Movement Operation (PMO) with the support of the IFRC and other Red Cross red Crescent Societies from 10 countries in Cox’s Bazar. Around 151,759 people were reached in May 2022 with basic healthcare services, Psychosocial Support (PSS), Disaster Risk Management (DRM), WASH, Shelter & Non-Food Items (NFIs) and livelihood. In addition, through CPP activities, BDRCS has been covering across all 33 camps.

Full Story

Bangladesh: Providing a dignified life for refugee children with disabilities

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:06:37 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
Source: UN Children's Fund

In the Rohingya refugee camp, an accessible latrine is making a difference in Irfan’s life

9-year-old Irfan has been living in the Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar for almost five years. In 2017, Irfan and his family fled violence and persecution in their home country of Myanmar, making their way to Bangladesh to seek refuge. This journey was more complicated for Irfan, who was born with a disability that makes walking long distances extremely difficult. His older brother carried Irfan on his back the entire journey.

The struggles of living with a disability did not end once Irfan and his family settled in the refugee camps. With its hilly terrain, the camps are not easy to navigate even for the most able-bodied person. This is particularly true in the monsoon season, when landslides and floods are everyday disasters waiting to happen.

Irfan lost his parents and lives with his older brother, sister-in-law, and baby niece. He needed his family’s help in most aspects of life. This included his brother having to carry Irfan to the nearest latrine, which was over a hill, every time he needed to use the bathroom. If Irfan tried to make the trip on his own, he would often fall and injure himself.

“It’s a very hard thing to live like Irfan,” shared his brother, “I do what I can to help but it can be frustrating for both him and me.”

UNICEF and partners have been responding to the needs of people living with disabilities in the camps, including children like Irfan. So far 1,000 disability friendly latrines have been constructed. Once Irfan’s case was identified a latrine was constructed, attached to his family’s shelter. This supports ease of use, whenever he requires its services.

This made an immediate difference to Irfan’s daily life. He felt more confident as he could now use a latrine without help from anyone.

“I am happy that I can use the new latrine by myself,” shares Irfan.

He even felt confident enough to begin attending his learning centre regularly. Previously, he refused to go to the learning centre sometimes on account of being afraid that he would need to use a latrine during class-time. But with the learning centre close to his shelter, and a new latrine being attached to the shelter, Irfan felt comfortable enough to not worry about it anymore.

Irfan’s favorite subjects to study at the learning centre are English, Math and Burmese. Someday, he hopes to grow up and become a teacher.

“I want to be a teacher because everyone respects teachers,” shares Irfan, “As a teacher I can help other children like me, and many who are yet to enroll in the learning centres.”

Community members and teachers are trained to identify and refer children with disabilities for support, which is a key component in increasing access to equitable and inclusive education for children like Irfan, to allow them a better chance in living a life with dignity.

Full Story

Colombia: Natural Hazards Monitoring - 27 June 2022

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:05:30 +0000

Countries: Colombia, Guatemala
Source: Pan American Health Organization

Severe Weather

Colombia (Update)

On 24 June, the Colombia National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD per its acronym in Spanish) reported that between 1-24 June, 173 events related to the rainy season affected 128 municipalities in 23 departments. More than 36,300 people have been affected, 12 people have died, 4 have been injured, and 9 people are missing. In addition, 69 houses have been destroyed and 2,756 houses, 118 road points, 13 vehicular bridges, and 2 pedestrian bridges have been damaged. The report is available at: UNGRD.

Guatemala (Update)

On 24 June, the Guatemala National Coordination System for Disaster Reduction (CONRED per its acronym in Spanish) reported 755 events related to the current rainy season that have affected 1,543,913 people, caused 6,278 evacuations of which 744 are currently sheltered, and 15,040 people have received assistance from CONRED. In total, 3,059 houses have been damaged; 129 schools, 185 road, 4 buildings, and 20 bridges have been affected; and 4 roads and 19 bridges have been destroyed. The report is available at: CONRED.

Full Story

Pakistan Meteorological Department: Weekly Drought Information (27 June 2022) [EN/UR]

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:03:29 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Pakistan
Source: Government of Pakistan

Please refer to the attached file.

During last week, light to heavy rainfall was received at some districts of both Sindh and Balochistan, while other areas remained hot and dry and the maximum temperature remained above 45°C. The change occurred in the drought situation due to last two weeks rains in South Punjab and adjoining Sindh that are shown in an updated drought situation map which is attached as annexure herewith.

Rainfall recorded in Sindh and Balochistan during the week 21-27 June, 2022 is as under:

Duration of forecast: 28 June to 04 July, 2022

Accorfing to meteorological conditions, in the next week good rains are expected at some places in Balochistan and Sindh. However, mild to moderate as well as moderate to severe drought situation would continue to prevail in already drought affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

Note: More detailed data and analyzed maps may be accessed from the National Drought Monitoring Centre, PMD website: https://ndmc.pmd.gov.pk/new/

Full Story

Pakistan: Polio vaccination drive launched aiming to reach 12.6 million children

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:57:45 +0000

Country: Pakistan
Source: Government of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, 26 June 2022: The second Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs) campaign of the year 2022 launched to vaccinate 12.6 million children across Pakistan.

The campaign will start from June 27 in all four provinces, covering 25 very high-risk districts for polio across Pakistan to vaccinate over 12 million children of under the age of five. Over 100,000 trained and dedicated sehat muhafiz will be engaged in the vaccination drive to inoculate the targeted children at their doorstep.

Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operation Centre emphasized that anti-polio campaign required deep attention and utmost responsibility to completely eradicate the poliovirus from the country. “Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children. High risk districts are our top priority, and we are keen to eliminate the poliovirus from the challenging areas while protecting the rest of the region as well”, he said.

“I particularly urge all parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated instead of hiding them or refusing to take the necessary drops during all vaccination drives. It is important to realize that the polio virus still exists in our surroundings and no child is safe until all children are truly vaccinated,” he added.

The Sehat Tahhafuz Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 will be available to assist parents and caregivers in reporting missed children. The repeated polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children and preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis.

===============

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.

For more information, visit our website - https://www.endpolio.com.pk

===============

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC, 0345-9165937

Email: zababakhel@gmail.com

Full Story

In the aftermath of crisis, rural Bangladeshi women pursue economic security

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:55:25 +0000

Country: Bangladesh
Source: UN Women

In the wake of crisis, economic response and recovery plans often forget the needs of women and girls, hindering sustained peace and development. In Bangladesh, UN Women supports the Generation Equality Compact on Women Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) and is working with local partners to put recovery back on track by increasing economic security for crisis-affected women through grants and job training.

When Cyclone Amphan swept through Bangladesh in 2020, it levelled thousands of homes and washed away fisheries and other vital livelihoods.

Mahmuda Khatun’s family keenly felt the impact. Dependent on a meagre day labourer wage provided by her spouse, her family struggled to make ends meet—a difficult situation that deteriorated rapidly with the arrival of COVID-19 and the fallout from the devastating cyclone.

Khatun resolved to start her own business to pull her family out of crisis. But a lack of banking history and little knowledge of finance stood in her way.

Determined to build a brighter future for her two daughters, she reached out to Prerona Nari Unnayan Sanggathan (Prerona Foundation), a local women’s organization supported by UN Women, which engages women in crisis response and ensures they have the necessary economic security to shore up their resiliency to crisis.

“The team analyzed my potential and suggested that I start a poultry farm”, Khatun says. “I had no links with microfinance institutions, so the Prerona Foundation helped me take out a loan to start my income generating activity”.

In the wake of humanitarian crises and climate disasters, the economic needs of women like Khatun are too often absent from long-term response and recovery plans. This directly impacts the ability of affected communities to fully recover from crisis shocks, hindering recovery and sustainable development.

Today, equipped with new skills and supported financially, Khatun has built a profitable business, earning around 17,000 taka (USD 200) each month.

With the family finances secured and her children in school, Khatun is now looking to help those around her.

“I would like to provide training for nearby women”, she says. “I hope to enhance their skills, helping to make more empowered women in society”.

Empowering women often starts with finance

Support from local civil society organizations is particularly important for marginalized Bangladeshi women—individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, inhabitants of rural areas, and those suffering social ostracization. And across humanitarian response, a lack of adequate and flexible funding has been an obstacle to the empowerment of women and girls.

To help elevate these women and facilitate their economic security, work-related training is crucial. This longer-term approach to poverty is central to what UN Women does in Bangladesh. Emergency funds can meet immediate needs, but for enduring economic self-sufficiency to be achieved, individuals must be given the tools and training to provide for themselves.

"In a post post-disaster scenario, reaching cash in the hands of women, at the right time, makes family’s and community’s recovery efficient and faster; that’s what we, at UN Women Bangladesh Country Office, have been trying to do for the last few years." — Dilruba Haider, UN Women Programme Specialist in Bangladesh

A key element of this is the availability of finance. Less than 60 per cent of Bangladeshi women have access to credit—a consequence of entrenched institutional, cultural and social barriers. As a result, female entrepreneurs are often forced to seek out informal financial markets or rely on profiteering middlemen.

Barriers to employment and economic resources are deep rooted

Additionally, just over a third of Bangladesh’s labour force is female, with a tiny proportion—less than five per cent—holding a formal role. On average, women earn 21 per cent less than their male counterparts.

The humanitarian crisis triggered by COVID-19 has only complicated matters, putting vulnerable women even further behind—as was the case for Sunita Roy.

Like a majority of Bangladeshi women, Roy married young. Pregnancy followed soon after the wedding, and her life took a sudden, traumatic turn. Abandoned by her husband before the baby’s arrival, she was left paralysed from the waist down during childbirth.

In the years that followed, she strove to support her daughter and elderly mother, taking on low-paid roles and borrowing from neighbours when necessary. In time, those neighbours would become her customers, buying clothes she made with a sewing machine supplied by the Association for Social Development & Distressed Welfare (ASDDW), a local women-led civil society organization.

A talented seamstress, Roy turned her focus to more profitable products—garlands and fabric flowers—which she sold at weddings and festivals. With a steady income, things were looking up for the 36-year-old. And then coronavirus hit.

“With the countrywide closure during COVID-19, my business came to a halt”, says Roy, who lives in a rural region of southwest Bangladesh. “My savings ran out, and I couldn’t purchase food and other necessary commodities”.

At this low point, ASDDW again stepped in. With emergency funding supplied by UN Women, the group was able to sustain Roy during lockdown, providing a cash grant of 3,000 Bangladeshi taka (USD 34). Now, as the threat of the virus wanes, she’s investing that money in her family’s future.

“I spent part of the [grant] to buy food, and with the rest I purchased some raw materials to produce my product”, she says. “My business has become a little bit bigger, my income has increased, and it’s now well enough to support my family”.

UN Women works with dozens of civil society and local women’s organizations to address these systemic issues, improving access to financial resources, training and employment opportunities. For ASDDW, a group that’s long struggled to secure government funding, this assistance is essential.

“Being a local level civil society organization, we lack capacity to mobilize funds”, explains Lipika Bairagi, ASDDW’s CEO. “UN Women has helped with this, as well as building our communication, project execution, and development capacity”.

Why do we need a global inclusive movement on gender equality? To ensure that women and girls in conflict and crisis receive full funding and support. Join us at wpshacompact.org.

Full Story

Papua New Guinea: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Health Situation Report #130, 20 June 2022

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:53:24 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Papua New Guinea
Sources: Government of Papua New Guinea, World Health Organization

Please refer to the attached file.

Situation Summary and Highlights

  • As of 19th June 2022, PNG has officially reported a cumulative total of 44,691 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 658 COVID-19 confirmed deaths.

  • There were 30 new confirmed cases reported during the week, including cases from Enga (90%), East New Britain (3.3%), National Capital District (NCD)(3.3%), Madang and Hela (3.3%).

  • Over 277,913 people are fully vaccinated, and over 337,243 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Full Story

World: Education Investments in Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa Region: Gaps & Opportunities towards sustainable financing beyond GPE commitments

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:47:24 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: World
Source: Plan International

Please refer to the attached file.

Foreword

The recent school closures and lockdowns have forced children, especially girls around the world from the classroom - and millions may never return.

The most marginalised and underserved - children with disabilities, minority populations, low-income families and girls - have been pushed further to the margins.

COVID-19 laid bare existing inequalities within the education system that we can no longer afford to ignore. Without quality education, the next generation faces the threats of child labour, poor health, early marriage and intergenerational poverty. Drastic action is needed.

Determining how to make every cent of education funding work for girls is more important than ever. I am pleased that this report and policy documents provide important recommendations for the different actors supporting better financing for gender equality in education.

Currently, the recent G7 and GPE financial commitments do not go far enough to meet the ambitious targets and address the massive financing gap facing the education sector.

The unprecedented disruption to education is an opportunity to change the status quo and introduce new, gender-responsive measures to transform our education systems.

Ensuring every girl can go to school depends on governments’ ability to provide stimulus spending at scale to reenroll girls, provide them with remedial learning support and increase overall investment in education. If leaders act with the urgency and ambition that the crisis demands, they can help millions of girls and lay the foundations for a gender-just recovery from the pandemic.

This change will require sufficient technical capacity at all levels, sufficient gender-disaggregated data, and because it needs the involvement of a number of government departments, sufficient political will.

We have clear and urgent opportunity to build back equal. This report calls for bold actions from brave leaders;

  1. Build strong, well-performing systems by investing in what works and rooting out corruption and waste,

  2. Support innovation in how education is delivered while better supporting the teaching profession, and embracing technology,

  3. Prioritise inclusion, to make sure that the most marginalized especially girls, poorest, youngest and children with disabilities, receive a quality education.

  4. Mobilise sufficient finance through domestic finance and increasing international support, including innovative finance.

We must continue to use our collective power of the partnership and development diplomacy to bring partners together to catalyze change and mobilize greater investments.

Roger Yates
Executive Director, MEESA

Full Story

World: Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women: Panel 2: Human rights-based and gender-responsive care and support systems

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 22:02:56 +0000

Country: World
Sources: UN Human Rights Council, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

DELIVERED BY Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
AT 50th session of the Human Rights Council

Distinguished President,Excellencies,Colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to address you today on a topic that is relevant to all of us.

Throughout the course of our lives, we all need care.

The notion of care encompasses many aspects: it can mean feeding ourselves, paying attention to our health and emotional well-being, or even keeping our homes clean.

We provide care for others. We are cared for by others. And we need to care for ourselves.

Care is fundamental for the full enjoyment of human rights and for a life with dignity, and autonomy.

But too often, care and support systems across many societies are unrecognised, undervalued and dramatically underfunded.

And the result is a flagrant neglect of the human rights that these systems are put in place to protect.

Without affordable and quality pre-primary education and care, children are deprived of the start in life they need to develop their full potential.

Without adequate community support or respite care, people with disabilities or older people may be institutionalised, potentially subject to abuse and a loss of autonomy.

Recipients of care are not only people who society considers more vulnerable. Almost all of us, in our everyday lives, benefit from care services, whether paid or unpaid. Without basic support like someone else to cook a meal or wash clothes, our fundamental right to work can be seriously affected. We may not have time to seek the healthcare we need, to access education, or even to take moments to enjoy our right to rest and leisure.

Today, I reiterate a fact of which we are all aware: the provision of care is a shared responsibility between men and women.

It is also a responsibility of society as a whole.

And yet, in most societies, it is taken for granted that this vital work be provided for free - or at very little cost - by women and girls.

Even if they are in need of care and support themselves.

Even if – across all generations - it implies a major impact on their human rights.

Girls are denied education when they have to care for siblings or their own children in the absence of childcare, and are in turn unable to care for themselves.

Within families, women often take on an unequal share of care responsibility, impeding their access to work and compromising their career development. And with little to no recognition of the economic value of unpaid care, women have reduced pensions, or an unequal share of marital assets if they divorce.

Many older women also actively continue to provide care for their family. And yet, when they themselves need support, such as long-term care, they frequently cannot afford services of their choice, with lifelong gender discrimination often the foundation for lifelong poverty.

And as care workers, women are frequently underpaid, less protected, less trained and less equipped. They face a higher risk of abuse and violence. And the systems they work for often ignore the fact care workers have their own families to look after, too, demanding long hours and offering little social protection.

Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the vulnerability of our care systems and yet, many countries continue to neglect the rights of caregivers and to compromise the provision of quality public care services.

Now is the time to invest in human rights-based and gender-responsive public care and support systems.

This means we need to respect the autonomy of people receiving care and support, including their right to live independently in the community.

We must recognise the value of care work and reflect it in economic policies, including calculation of pension benefits, better working conditions which allow men and women to meet their care responsibilities, and strengthened social services that comply with international human rights standards.

We must reduce the care burden by improving basic infrastructure, such as water, sanitation, housing, transportation and assistive technologies and devices.

We need to redistribute care work, by dismantling gender stereotypes that assign care responsibilities to women and girls only. We must also redistribute care responsibilities and support services among the family, the community and the State.

Last but not least, we cannot build a fair and equal system without the strong and meaningful participation of the women and girls, in all their diversity, who work as caregivers, and of the women and girls who themselves receive or are in need of care and support.

We need to listen to their voices. We need to rebuild the system with them.

I welcome the innovative efforts of some States on this issue. The Global Alliance for Care for example, which emerged from the Generation Equality Forum, is mobilizing States, civil society, the private sector and international organizations to reshape the care agenda.

The UN human rights mechanisms also have a wealth of analysis and guidance on human rights standards which relate to this matter.

The momentum is there to transform our care and support systems, and to advance gender equality at the same time. By consolidating our efforts, I am confident we can work towards protecting everyone’s rights, without leaving anyone behind.

Thank you.

Full Story