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Japan, UNFPA partner with LWU, MOPWT and UN-Habitat to launch “Safer Cities Initiative”

The government of Japan pledged USD 833,333 to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to implement: Safer Cities: Interventions against Covid-19 focusing on WASH and Protection for communities at risk.

The launch on Apr 7 at the U.N. House was attended by Ambassador of Japan in the Lao PDR Kenichi Kobayashi, President of the Lao Women Union Inlavanh Keobounphanh, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR Mariam A. KHAN, Dr. Avi Sarkar, Regional Advisor, South-East Asia, UBS, and Head of Office, UN-Habitat in the Lao PDR, and representatives from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In her opening remarks, Ms Inlavanh Keobounphanh, President of Lao Women Union, thanked the government of Japan, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, and other partners for supporting the protection of women and girls in Laos. “This partnership provides support to survivors, women, and girls to access law and justice and ensure their safety through protection shelters, including mental health and psychosocial support,” said Ms Inlavanh.

The project aims to improve the lives of about 500 vulnerable women and girls and survivors of violence and 3,000 COVID-19 affected people, as well as strengthen the capacities of 100 service providers, through the provision of WASH facilities, physical improvements to protection shelters, quarantine facilities and isolation facility structures, gender-responsive support, and improvement of women-friendly spaces.

The project targets 11 provinces including Xayaboury, Savannakhet, Borikhamxay, Champassak, Xekong, Saravan, Khammuan, Attapeu, Bokeo, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane.

Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Kobayashi said, “Japan is a strong supporter of the COVID-19 response and gender equality efforts in Laos. It is my pleasure to assure you that Japan will continue to support Laos in various fields, including the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response and the empowerment of women. Japan does so as a strategic partner of Laos, reiterating our support and strong desire for continued close collaboration with the international community and development partners.”

Ms Mariam A. Khan stated, “This project comes at a critical moment, I thank the Government of Japan for this contribution which responds to COVID-19 but also paves the way for a rapidly urbanising Lao PDR. This new support will safeguard the health and lives of thousands of women and girls and vulnerable groups in the years to come.”

The project focuses on two main components: Provision of protection and social services for women and girls, including gender-sensitive safety measures, for quarantine/isolation facilities and protection shelters. It also aims to establish three new protection shelters and improve two existing protection shelters to provide safe haven for women and girl survivors of violence and vulnerable women. Provision of WASH facilities/hard infrastructure and physical improvements to quarantine/isolation facilities, community centers, and at-risk communities.

The project also contributes to the implementation of the Essential Services Package on Women and Girls Subjected to Violence, a global guidance tool identifying the essential services by health, social services, police and justice sectors to be provided to all women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence – GBV. The ESP is supported by many donors, including DFAT, UK, SDC and KOICA.

Source: Lao News Agency