In contrast to drought-plagued Africa, Peru declared a state of emergency after flooding and heavy rains from February through April devastated the northern coast and displaced thousands of people.

The flooding, caused by the El Niño coastal phenomenon, affected over 1.1 million people in Peru, marking it the worst flooding the country has seen in over 30 years. At least 75 people died, and over 100,000 people were left homeless.

Women and children rank among those most affected by the flooding: of the 1.1 million affected, approximately 339,614 were women and 358,602 children and adolescents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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Amid the flooding, women and girls are especially at-risk, facing further challenges, such as the threat of diseases like dengue fever and Zika, barriers to family planning services, and increased risk of gender-based violence, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Together with Peru’s government and local partners, UNFPA has provided an estimated 10,000 women and girls affected by the flooding with life-saving reproductive health services and tools to prevent gender-based violence.

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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has estimated that 4,900 women would experience pregnancy-related complications due to the flooding devastation. Similarly, the flooding would leave approximately 5,500 women of reproductive age at an increased risk of sexual assault in the crisis-affected areas.

In the areas most affected by the flooding, UNFPA is working with community leaders to promote safety and spread information about services to survivors of sexual assault and violence. A helpline was set up by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, and UNFPA distributed 7,500 “protection kits” to women and girls containing whistles, solar flashlights, and padlocks.

UNFPA also organized over 150 awareness sessions in local camps to teach women about reproductive health, where to find a health provider, and how to avoid infections like dengue, Zika and Chikungunya.

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UNFPA and the Regional Health Directorate sent corps of physicians, gynecologists, and social workers to areas of Peru hardest hit by the flooding and has provided health equipment.

Experts say the humanitarian response has helped strengthen communities most affected by the flooding, but there is still more work to be done and many more people in need of assistance.


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10,000 Women and Girls in Peru to Receive Reproductive Health Care After Deadly Flood

By Tess Sohngen