Continuation of 5.8

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5.8.3. Gender and temporary shelters

In terms of preventing inequities and addressing specific needs, temporary shelters are perhaps the most challenging element in an emergency operation. Very often settlements arise spontaneously and do not offer much in the way of guarantees for safety, protection, and human dignity, or for family and community life.

Here again, it is women, girls, and boys who are most exposed to a variety of social and health risks. One of the priority tasks in evaluating these sites to promote urgent measures to mitigate these risks.

When there is an opportunity to participate in planning the site, consideration should be given to the specific needs of women and men, and to the safety of women, girls, and boys by providing separate bathing and lavatory facilities, and properly lit spaces and facilities. When assigning space, gender considerations should be taken into account, such as family units headed by single women or by boys or girls.

The health sector should coordinate with the various sectors that take part in managing shelters to ensure that basic needs are addressed with a gender perspective and that protection and assistance services are better planned.

The IASC manual on gender issues in humanitarian action (beginning on page 41)provides basic guidelines on incorporating a gender perspective into the organization and management of camps and temporary shelters, including a checklist of the elements that must be taken into account in these contexts.

5.8.4. Gender, food distribution, and nutrition

When food is scarce, women and girls are more likely to reduce their food consumption than are other household members, which can lead to undernutrition in women and girls. Some traditions and social customs can also endanger this population group in crisis circumstances. In emergencies, men who head single-parent households can find themeslves without the structures on which they usually depend for support. If they are unable to cook or properly care for young children, the children may face a heightened risk of undernutrition.

For this reason, the gender perspective should be incorporated early on, when needs are assessed and vulnerability analyzed. This will aid in guiding the planning process, the design and management of food distribution programs, and the monitoring of the affected population’s nutritional needs.

The IASC Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action (p. 71) breaks down the procedures involved in action that appropriately addresses the specific needs of the two genders and different age groups, and includes a checklist of the elements that must be taken into account in this context.