Press Release

UNFPA Assists Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers Affected by the Drought in the Republic of Moldova

20 October 2007

CHISINAU, Republic of Moldova — Relief has come for women living in regions suffering from the severe drought of 2007, which has already affected 80 per cent of this country. The lack of rain has been an especially drastic impediment to grain production in a country heavily dependant on agriculture.

On 18 October, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, presented the Ministry of Health with 4,700 boxes of food packages intended to help pregnant women and nursing mothers as part of the Fund’s ongoing work to make motherhood safer. Ensuring that pregnant and lactating women receive adequate nutrition with essential vitamins and minerals can reduce maternal death, birth defects, childhood mortality, blindness, anaemia and vulnerability to infections.

Experts estimate that eliminating malnutrition in mothers can reduce disabilities in their infants by almost one third. The $70,000 UNFPA contribution has been made in the framework of the joint United Nations project: Relief and Technical Assistance Response to the Drought in Moldova. The packages containing oil, rice, sugar, flour, and beans, will be distributed in the 19 ‘rayons’ (districts) most affected by the drought. The food will be channeled through reproductive health centres to reach those most in need, based on an integrated plan for transparent distribution, developed by the Ministry of Health with UNFPA support.

The six-month project has a total budget of $6 million and is being financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Austrian Development Agency, the European Commission, through its Humanitarian Office, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNFPA.  The project is being managed by UNDP in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNFPA, the United Nations Children Fund, other UN agencies, the Government of the Republic of Moldova and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

As a result of this overall collaboration, 20,500 farm households in the affected districts have received packages containing seeds, fertilizers and fuel. In the coming months, another 15,000 socially vulnerable households and groups are expected to receive livestock fodder, free meals, allowances and fortified cereals to avoid iron deficiency.

During the 18 October ceremony celebrating the new UNFPA contribution, Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Moldova, emphasized that the combined efforts of donors, local authorities and NGOs are imperative for assisting the country alleviate the impact of the drought. In her address, Ms. Immonen also thanked the Ministry of Health for its valuable efforts to ensure that pregnant women and nursing mothers are given timely and adequate support and assistance. In his turn, the Minister of Health expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the UNFPA assistance.

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