The Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Nilofar Bakhtiar along with the Secretary Women Development Department (WDD) Punjab, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Mission team and local partners visited the flood-affected areas in South Punjab on October 7 and 8, 2022 to assess and highlight the needs of women, girls and women with disabilities in camps located in the region.
The team visited Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur’s highly affected areas .i.e. Mangrotha Maghrib, one of the most highly affected areas of Taunsa and Dera Ghazi Khan, a basti consisting of more than 150 women and children severely affected by the floods.
The Chairperson and Secretary WDD had the opportunity to sit down with various women including pregnant women, the differently-abled and the sick, to listen to their plight and experiences, as well as their current needs.
At Rajanpur the team visited one of the most vulnerable areas in the region, Fazilpur, which was one of the last remaining relief camps. Focus group discussions were held with pregnant and lactating women, as well as those with disabilites.
The Chairperson NCSW actively advocated for the problems and needs for these vulnerable groups to local the administration and relevant departments i.e health.
With the support of UNFPA, more than 250 women received dignitary kits, which included essential hygiene items, in order to ease the lack of women-friendly sanitation needs.
A detailed briefing by the Deputy Commissioners of DG Khan and Rajanpur were given which included relevant departments i.e. the health and social welfare, as well as representatives of NGOs on post-flood relief activities. Meticulous data related to women, including the number of pregnant women, the amount of deliveries and births as well as current conditions of their health and social well-being were also noted.
The Chairperson lauded the efforts of the district administration. She highlighted and flagged the issues of the lack of designated bathroom facilities for women, coupled with the shortage of medicine, health services and malnutrition which made for very dire and unfortunate circumstances. The need for support of relevant departments was highlighted to ensure that Fazilpur camp be visited by Lady Health Workers, receive medicines, nutritional supplements and construct specially designed latrines for women.
Nilofar Bakhtiar highly emphasized the need to work on family planning by relevant authorities, donors/NGOs and they must address this issue on priority basis.
Moreover, she said that the affected families were relocating to their homes they must get the same attention to have proper shelter and basic needs that were provided to them, otherwise the already miserable condition would worsen.
Upon directions of the Chairperson, a medical camp was immediately set up the next day to provide free medical services to pregnant women and girls. The team also visited a very remote area within Rajanpur within which the UNFPA, with its partner ACT are opening a Women and Girls Friendly Space.
The Chairperson NCSW highly appreciated and emphasized the importance of engaging women and adolescent girls to access the pertinent psycho-social support as well as information and services for family planning.
The Chairperson highlighted the fact that there is much that was still needed in the aftermath of the devastating floods, and through close collaboration and compressive planning.
Nilofar Bakhtiar added that she hoped to see South Punjab lead the way into early recovery.