ActionAid essentials kits

An essentials kit distributed to Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

An essentials kit distributed to Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Fabeha Monir/ActionAid

What's included in an emergency essentials kit?


In all emergencies, violence against women and girls increases, including sexual assault, domestic violence and rape.

That's why, in emergency camps in Somaliland, we are distributing whistles - and members of the community are told that if they hear the sound of the whistle at night, they should go outside and see whether there is a problem. 


One of the biggest challenges women and girls face in humanitarian crises is the lack of proper toilets and sanitation.

With no privacy, women may even avoid using the toilet by day - instead going before sunrise and after sunset, under cover of darkness, putting them at greater risk of attack.

There is also little lighting in the camps, making the hours of sunset unsafe for women. 

That's why ActionAid distributes torches in emergencies, so women can feel safer moving about after dark.


In a crisis, one of the biggest threats to life is the spread of disease, often caused by contaminated water and lack of sanitation.

That's why ActionAid distributes soap in an emergency, and trains communities in handwashing and hygiene practices, to save lives and stop the spread of disease.


In an emergency, women and girls often have to flee their homes with nothing.

Clean underwear and clothing is a lifeline in these situations; it also helps women and girls manage their periods safely and hygienically.

Menstrual products

Periods don't stop in an emergency, but women can be left with nothing to manage their periods safely. They may be forced to use makeshift alternatives like rags, which can be dangerous.

We distribute menstrual products like sanitary pads, or reusable pads, dependent on the needs of the community.


Many women in emergency camps give birth without medical facilities, or even a midwife to help, and have no supplies to take care of themselves and their baby after childbirth. 

That's why we include items like baby lotion in essentials kits, as well as toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo.

Top image: In Somaliland, ActionAid has supported women like Sabad Ali (right) and her family with essentials kits. Karin Schermbrucker/ActionAid

Page updated 13 February 2023