Providing lifesaving care in emergencies
Our Humanitarian Programme provides a distinct model for sexual and reproductive health and rights in crises, connecting key elements of humanitarian action with long-term development. We are one of the world’s largest provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare in emergencies.
Women’s need for reproductive health care is not suspended in crises. One-quarter of people affected by crises are women and girls aged 15-49. One in five women are likely to be pregnant and one and five of all deliveries will experience complications. In crisis settings there is also a heightened risk of early marriage, rape and sexual violence, unsafe abortions and unattended births. Transmission rates of STIs, including HIV, increase in emergencies.
During crises we work closely with our clinics on the ground to deliver life-saving care to people in need. Our mobile health clinics provide on the spot services such as STI and HIV diagnosis and treatment, short and long-acting contraception, and antenatal and newborn care.
We are currently funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to natural disasters and conflict settings predominantly in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to natural disasters in the Pacific, Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs for refugee outreach in Uganda and BMZ (Germany) across three countries in West Africa, and the Canadian Government for humanitarian work in Colombia. We are also funded by the Japanese Government funding for several countries in the Arab and Africa regions, and The Vitol Foundation for work with youth in refugee camps in both Lebanon and Palestine, and increasingly by other donors to respond to further emergencies, including fragile contexts.
Increasing numbers of people face crises or live in chronically insecure settings. Humanitarian crises expose weaknesses in health systems, with particularly serious consequences for women, young people and marginalised groups.
IPPF focuses on meeting the needs of the underserved, in particular the needs of young people, women, and marginalized groups. These may include ethnic minorities, people on the move, refugees and stateless people as well as those of diverse sexual and gender identity, expression and sex characteristics, and persons living with disabilities.
IPPF currently has membership in over 170 countries. Our approach is to build on existing local partner capacity and skills and extend these services to crisis-affected populations. As the situation normalises after a crisis, we aim to leave behind stronger local partners.
Where we respond
“At the time of Cyclone Winston I was seven-months pregnant. It was already very hard trying to keep my other three children safe. I was alone with them because my husband went out hunting before the cyclone hit.”
Cyclone Winston, Fiji
Resilience in the face of devastation
In September 2017, Mexico suffered from a devastating magnitude 7.1 earthquake that left hundreds dead and injured, while crushing buildings and destroying infrastructure.
IPPF immediately activated our humanitarian response network which assessed damage, deployed personnel, and made sure our mobile clinics were able to operate and reach local communities with vital healthcare and services.
Mexfam, an IPPF member association in Mexico, continued to provide free healthcare during and after the record-breaking earthquakes, despite many members of staff losing their homes and even family members.
Watch Resilience in Mexico here
Life after the Cyclone Gita
In February 2018, Tropical Cyclone Gita hit Tonga – the strongest storm in 60 years. Humanitarian disasters mean an increased risk of STI/HIV transmissions and gender-based violence. The consequences can be truly dire.
That's why in crises like this one, IPPF Humanitarian aims to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare through IPPF member the Tonga Family Health Association (TFHA) local partners.
Watch Aftermath of Cyclone Gita here
Emergency care in the most disaster-prone country in the world
"All I do is sit and cry with my children. I want family planning so bad. I've known about it, but I have never managed to get it," says Esther, 31, sitting in the tiny village on the island of Ambae, in Vanuatu. On her lap is her youngest child, Elijah.
Next to her on the mat is her two-year-old child, Stewart. Running around outside her modest house are her four other children - George, 12, James, 10, Steven, 8, and Judith, 6.
Esther lives on the Manaro Voui volcano in Vanuatu - where sudden recent seismic activity causes it to belch toxic fumes. Esther’s husband is barely home. Her second youngest, Stewart, has a disability and cannot walk. Her youngest, Elijah, was born one week before the family were forced to evacuate to another island.
Women’s and girls’ rights and agency in humanitarian action - A life-saving priority
An estimated 67 million women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance. Impacted by conflict, violence and natural disasters, women and girls in emergencies are at heightened risk of gender-based violence and trafficking, unintended pregnancy, maternal morbidity and mortality, unsafe abortions, and child, early and forced marriage.
Despite the immediate, long-term and largely preventable impacts of these realities, the unique needs, priorities and capacities of women and girls are not treated with the same urgency as shelter, water and food aid in emergency response and recovery efforts, and opportunities to transform unequal gender relations and shift harmful gender norms are being missed.
In the year of the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, and as the world prepares to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, it is high-time that the international community rally together to uphold women’s and girls’ rights where they are furthest behind: in conflict and emergency settings.
A more systematic approach for ensuring that humanitarian action responds to women’s and girls’ rights and needs is within reach.