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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 23 September 2020

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 17 May 2022

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 15 February 2019

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 17 May 2022

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 17 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 23 September 2020

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 17 May 2022

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 15 February 2019

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 17 May 2022

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 17 May 2022

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 17 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal