During Thailand’s Floods, UNFPA Steps In
- 13 December 2011
BANGKOK — Thailand has been experiencing one of its worst flood crises in recent history, with 64 of 77 provinces and more than five million people, about 8 per cent of the population, affected since July 2011. Worsening sanitation conditions, related to stagnating water and few toilets, remain a deep concern. Access to clean water and hygiene are challenges for both the flood victims who evacuated to shelters and the people who stayed at home.
The Department of Provincial Administration reported that 2,464 evacuation centers are running in 25 provinces. While the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is operating 175 evacuation shelters for 17,075 people, the Ministry of Public Health is responsible for centers sheltering people with serious health concerns and providing essential health services. Pregnant women, children, disabled people, older people and patients with chronic diseases are among the most vulnerable groups.
The UNFPA Thailand country office has been working steadily to help the Thai people cope with the months-long crisis by providing support to national relief operations through the Ministry of Public Health, Thai Red Cross and key nongovernmental organizations by ensuring the availability of reproductive services and promoting the use of female hygiene kits.
In a waterproof tote, items ranging from toiletries to clean clothing are packaged inside a biodegradable bag. The kits have been specifically designed for women’s personal hygiene needs and have been distributed to the most vulnerable, including migrants and those living in shelters.
In June, the UN in Thailand and the Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation held a simulation exercise for disaster preparedness, but the floods struck before the planning was finished. As a result, UNFPA is developing a recovery framework and assessment for handling future humanitarian crises, including making full reproductive health information and services available. – Kimberly True