Dr Laurent Zessler, Director and Representative of the UNFPA Pacific Sub-regional Office, presented to the Suva East members in November to talk about the work that the United Nations Population Fund has been doing regionally and globally. Guided by objectives that are very much consistent with the Millennium Development Goals, UNFPA is focused on delivering a world where very pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
In his presentation he mentioned that one of the areas that UNFPA contributes to but is not generally highlighted is their assistance to communities before, during and after disasters. In 2012 for example, UNFPA distributed some 2500 dignity packs in the Western Division when severe flooding occurred during Fiji’s hurricane season. More recently, UNFPA deployed massive assistance to the devastated province of Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the Philippines.
These dignity packs are specifically made for women and include some clothing and items for personal hygiene like sanitary pads. At the moment, UNFPA works largely with non-government partners in the deployment of these packs. Dr Zessler believes that more local private sector partnership, like groups such as the Rotary, would be a tremendous help in reaching out to communities and people in need. Not just during disaster situations but in many other areas where different types of partnerships could be significant. He ended with words of encouragement to the Suva East members on the possibilities of the Rotary working with UNFPA in the near future.