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UNFPA’s Dedication to Maternal Health in the Face of Floods: Saciido’s Journey

24-year-old Saciido Ali Abdirahman is one of the millions of Somalis affected by recent floods. She is poor, internally displaced, and a mother of three. Saciido’s story highlights the urgent need for women and girls to have access to reproductive health care, especially in times of crisis. Her experience illustrates the vulnerability of women and girls in displaced populations and emphasizes the necessity of comprehensive reproductive health services, including birth spacing services for family planning.

Married at 18 in the flood-prone Mooro Fuur IDP camp, Xudur, Bakool region, South-Western Somalia, Saciido later moved to the safer Kormari IDP camp for protection from floods and inter-communal conflicts. Since 2015, Kormari has been her sanctuary, and with the help of a local UNFPA partner, SAMA, Saciido was able to access specialized reproductive health services.

For the past two years, Saciido has been receiving high-quality reproductive health services, including family planning drugs and counseling. She and her family have also benefited from integrated health and nutrition services, outpatient consultations, provision of drugs, and routine health screening from other humanitarian actors. In an interview, Saciido emphasized the significant impact of birth spacing services, highlighting their importance among all the health services she has received.

“I have been receiving family planning pills and counseling from UNFPA and SAMA,” Saciido shared. “If I hadn’t used birth spacing, by now I would have been pregnant with my fourth child,” she added gratefully.

Saciido expressed her appreciation, acknowledging, “If I were residing in Mooro Fuur IDP camp, I wouldn’t have had access to these high-quality services.” She also shared her previous experience, saying, “I used to purchase family planning pills from the market, but I had doubts about their quality and source. The floods and community conflicts have worsened our financial condition; it was very challenging for me to afford the medication.” Saciido then highlighted the positive change, “Now, thanks to UNFPA, I can access the family planning drugs at no cost. This has been a great relief for women who are displaced to these camps.”

UNFPA prioritizes that women and girls have access to reproductive health care, particularly during crises, as highlighted in Saciido’s narrative. Its implementation partners work to provide accessible services as well as raise community awareness through mobile teams. This dual approach to accessibility and awareness fosters a sustainable impact on the health of women and girls in the communities.

Saciido aspires to become a family planning and birth spacing champion in her community, educating and inspiring younger women about the importance of family planning and the need for birth spacing services. Through Saciido’s narrative, the impact of UNFPA’s commitment to ensuring safe birth, maternity care, and comprehensive reproductive health services for Somali women and mothers becomes vividly evident, illuminating pathways to a resilient and empowered future.

Saciido’s story echoes the broader mission of UNFPA, not just as a provider of services but as an advocate for comprehensive reproductive health and rights. The organization’s interventions go beyond immediate relief, fostering resilience and empowerment among communities facing the dual challenges of displacement and climate crises.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNFPA Somalia.

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