The past few years have brought the worst natural disasters we have experienced in recent history. The effects of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, the Iloilo earthquake and Typhoon Sendong in Mindanao have brought destruction upon Filipinos never before experienced in those areas. This is happening not only in the Philippines but also across other parts of the world. Thus there is a major call to action in addressing the needs in times of emergencies and disasters.
As such, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has dedicated the Celebration of World Population Day 2015 on July 11 to getting attention and action to vulnerable populations in times of disaster with the theme: ‘Dignity and Protection of Vulnerable Populations in times of Emergencies”.
This year will be focused on women, children and adolescents as vulnerable populations and their specific needs in times of calamities. According to the UNFPA, these vulnerable populations make up 75% of the 50 Million people who have been displaced by manmade and natural disasters. Their immediate needs stem beyond food and shelter as they have other concerns of abuse, sexual and reproductive health.
In the Cordilleras, there are 333,882 women who are in their reproductive age while 188, 736 are under the age of 5. These women and children regularly need maternal and child care under normal circumstances and the scenario worsens tenfold in times of emergencies. Adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs are also a concern in calamities as specific services will not be immediately available for them. It also adds that a majority of the population living in the region are Indigenous peoples, whose main livelihood depend on the absence of disasters.
The UNFPA together with the Commission on Population shall conduct several activities in line with World Population Day 2015. This includes local forums on disaster risk management, reproductive health discussions and media related activities. In the region, PopCom-CAR shall be conducting Family Development Sessions targeting these vulnerable population in risk prone areas.