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Pivoting the Regional Prepositioning Initiative to meet the challenges of COVID-19

Pivoting the Regional Prepositioning Initiative to meet the challenges of COVID-19

Indonesia: Midwife Sri Budiyati in Central Java. @UNICEF/UNI329147/Ijazah

The COVID-19 pandemic caused temporary closures of manufacturing plants, flight cancellations and border closures, and severely disrupted supply chains globally. This impacted the availability of life-saving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and gender-based violence (GBV) commodities supplies in countries where the pandemic was already placing a huge strain on health systems.

Amidst these challenges, UNFPA was able to demonstrate timely delivery of humanitarian supplies through a flagship humanitarian preparedness programme, the Regional Prepositioning Initiative, which is supported by Australia. Since the inception of the initiative in 2015, prepositioning SRH and GBV supplies both in disaster-prone countries and in regional hubs has helped UNFPA respond faster, better and more efficiently to humanitarian crises across the region.


Vanuatu: Supplies arriving in Port Vila from the Brisbane warehouse to support the Government of Vanuatu's response to Tropical Cyclone Harold during the COVID-19 pandemic. @NDMO/Vanuatu

The project, which was due to end in June 2020, was extended until the end of 2020 with additional funds from Australia of more than AUD 1 million (USD 680,687) to pivot resources and activities towards COVID-19 response.

As a result, UNFPA was able to adapt prepositioned supplies to the COVID-19 context, for example by including hand sanitisers, fabric face masks, mobile phone cards and additional soap in dignity kits. These additional items can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and make it easier for women and girls to avail of the phone-based GBV response services that have been established.

Bangladesh: Cox's Bazar is the largest refugee settlement in the world. With sanitation challenges and crowded conditions, the risk of widespread COVID-19 outbreak remains high. UNFPA's role in the planning clusters advocates for the needs of women, girls and the most vulnerable in a coordinated disaster resoponse. Building on the network, knowledge and supplies from the Regional Prepositioning Initiative, UNFPA is able to support partners through the COVID-19 health crisis. @UNICEF

Bangladesh: Preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends on health workers having PPE and supplies to deliver quality care for women and girls.  The Regional Prepositioning Initiative has been able to get protective equipment and modified diginity kits to government partners and into the clinics on the frontline of this ongoing health crisis. @UNFPA/Bangladesh

To date, supplies distributed through the Regional Prepositioning Initiative have been used to support comprehensive COVID-19 response efforts in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka, reaching more than 12,000 women and girls, including pregnant women, returning migrants in quarantine and other vulnerable groups.

Given the global disruptions to supply chains, and the impact of the pandemic on access to and availability of SRH and GBV services, having prepositioned supplies to quickly adapt and mobilize has been essential to respond to the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls and to provide services for GBV survivors at a time when they are needed the most. 

Bangladesh: After a safe delivery in a UNFPA Supported health facility in Cox's Bazar, a mother with her new born baby. @UNFPA/Bangladesh/Tajrin

Philippines: Supplies are unloaded at the Makilala Health Center in North Cotobato during the COVID-19 response. The kits are a part of a community-wide project that provides cash grants for people to meet basic needs like food medicine, education and transportation. The project also helps vulenrable groups access protection services, minimising risk and supporting recovery. @UNFPA/Phillippines

Papua New Guinea: Julie Myron and her daughter Adaline in Southern Highland Province. UNFPA has been able to support health workers in remote communities in Papua New Guinea during the government led COVID-19 response. Maintaining maternal health services during the onging crisis is a critical to keeping women and children safe. @UNICEF/UN0290486/Mepham

Australia: The warehouse in Brisbane is an essential node in UNFPA's disaster reponse network. Having supplies ready to go has meant that countries across the region have been able to get dignity kits that have been adpated to the needs of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. @UNFPA


About the Project

The Asia-Pacific region is the most disaster-prone in the world. In order to strengthen preparedness and build resilience, UNFPA’s Asia-Pacific Regional Office manages a flagship programme, the Regional Prepositioning Initiative, supported by Australia, which targets the most disaster-prone countries in the region.

Since 2016 and as of September 2020, the Regional Prepositioning Initiative has reached nearly 140,000 direct beneficiaries with more than US$ 1.6 million worth of essential supplies to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls and to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in 54 emergencies across 15 countries.

Prepositioning has dramatically improved UNFPA’s humanitarian response in Asia and the Pacific in terms of speed, quality and efficiency. Prepositioning has also strengthened UNFPA’s reputation and reliability as a humanitarian actor, provided new opportunities to advocate for measures to address sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence during humanitarian responses, and helped to build trust with governments and other partners.

These outcomes assist UNFPA’s work in relation to the humanitarian, development and peace-building nexus.

UNFPA is thankful to the Government of Australia, through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for supporting the Regional Prepositioning Initiative.

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