Menstruation is an integral and normal part of human life, indeed of human existence. Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of women and girls and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right.
Very few professionals have actively engaged with the issue of menstrual hygiene management although often given limited attention.
Professionals from the Health, (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene- WASH) sectors alike are astonished at the absence of this issue from both technical and rights based discourses, but are unable in most cases to point us in the direction of substantive work on these issues.
The literature on Gender mainstreaming in the Water & Sanitation sector, is silent on menstrual hygiene Management adequacy of water for washing and bathing, availability of hygienic materials and solid waste management of disposables. Initiatives in this area are restricted to very small pilots, with minimal follow-up and limited dissemination of results.
Although poor sanitation is correlated with absenteeism and dropping-out of school of girls in Uganda, efforts in school sanitation to address this issue have ignored menstrual management in latrine design and construction. Wider aspects of the issue such as privacy, water availability and awareness-raising amongst boys and men remain largely unexplored by development initiatives.
Menstrual hygiene promotion efforts have recently started focusing on this area but mainly on the software aspects i.e. telling girls and women about correct practices. These efforts have not targeted men and adolescent boys, nor do they systematically inform infrastructure design.
There is therefore a pressing need to create awareness among the stakeholders, design appropriate measures of affordable menstrual hygiene reusable pads, advocate for or facilitate putting in place WASH infrastructures that are girl-user friendly in schools, create schools sanitary clubs and village rotary corps who are trained and equipped with knowledge and skills in making affordable re-usable sanitary pads.
The project goal is to contribute towards the realization of the National Strategy for Girls Education in Uganda, which will lead to equitable access to education by both girls and boys. This has not yet been translated into action in primary and secondary schools of Gomba district. It is also aimed at contributing towards the fulfillment of Rotary International focus areas of supporting education by enabling girls to stay at school comfortably during menstruation, and increasing access to clean safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Objectives of the Project:
1) To increase awareness and knowledge about menstrual hygiene management and its effects on education among pupils and other stakeholders.
2) To increase access to affordable and re-usable sanitary towels in 20 schools.
3) To support the construction/procurement of WASH facilities in 20 schools.
4) To lobby and advocate for Policy direction about menstruation hygiene management at all levels of local government in Gomba district.
Description of project activities:
Train stakeholders in puberty, social and emotional changes, menstruation hygiene orientation and management
This activity will start with identification of different stakeholders and we orient them about the project objectives.
.These training will be for 4 days targeting pupils, teachers and head teachers, school management committees/ Parent Teachers' Associations as well as rotary community corps.
Trainings will be carried in 20 Schools. The content of the training will help all stake holders to know the importance of menstruation and how to deal with it
Form girls clubs at school where they can address their issues and support their fellow girls to cope with menstruation challenges.
After the trainings, girls will be encouraged to form groups in schools. At least one group per school. These groups will help to prepare girls who have not reached their menstruation periods as well as supporting those who already reach their menstruation periods. They will help to pass on the information about menstruation hygiene management. These will also keep emergence sanitary pads.
To procure materials, train girls, senior women teachers and village rotary corps in making affordable re-usable sanitary pads
16 primary and 4 secondary schools will be selected for training and a total of 5, 409 girls and women plus 4, 364 boys and men are expected to attend the training. The trainings will take 5 days and by the end of the training participants will have developed the skills of making their own re-usable sanitary pads.
We also planning to train the village rotary corps in making re-usable sanitary pads reason being the girls trained in schools will reach a certain stage when they have completed their levels of studies in those particular schools and the teachers will be transferred to other schools hence losing the training goal. However these village rotary corps will keep on passing the training knowledge and information to every stage and this will also help them to be their source of income.
They will be given full package training materials and 2 facilitators for each training sessions will be hired.
To support the construction of sanitary infrastructures like wash rooms/change rooms and hand washing stations.
a) Each of the school will be helped to construct 2 wash rooms /change rooms with incinerators. These will be used by girls during menstruation. Each girl will have at least 3 sets of re-usable sanitary pads which will be packed in a small bag that can be kept inside the girls' school bags.
b) In addition to that, each school will receive a rain water harvesting 3 layer plastic tank of 20,000 liters each. This will provide clean safe water for drinking, and availing girls with water to properly manage their menstruation hygiene at schools as well as hand washing after using the pit latrine.
c) Drinking water filters that have been tested by the ministry of health will be procured and distributed to schools whereby each school will receive 7, thereby availing clean and safe drinking water inside each classroom.
d) Communal Hand washing stations will be constructed near pit latrines and at the compounds near kitchens these will be used by students to wash hands after using pit latrines, before and after meals.
e) We shall procure and distribute Sato pans for the improvement of the existing pit latrines in schools. Each school will receive 10 Sato pans and these will help to prevent houseflies from pit latrines that hoover around school compound spreading germs. They also prevent the odour from pit latrines, thereby keeping environment around the school compound habitable.
Engage the school management committees, District Education Office and District Health inspectors to prioritize menstruation hygiene management in schools.
We shall hold dialogue meetings with school management committees, education offices and District Health inspectors. To influence policy support as regards menstrual management in the district of Gomba.
Monitoring and evaluation.
RC Kabulasoke Gomba shall employ the participatory monitoring and evaluation approach towards the project activities. RC Gomba shall work with the existing Rotary Community Corps who will be trained, to develop performance indicators that will be used in monitoring progress for each outcome. Other stakeholders that shall participate include senior teachers, school administration, school management committees and local area committees/ leadership
Data will be collected during weekly, monthly, quarterly and support visits by project implementation team. A monitoring team comprised of RC Gomba members and district local government Officials shall monitor the project's activities on a monthly and quarterly basis.
Relevant data collection/ survey tools shall be developed to enable collection of data through on-site observation, testimonies, focus group discussions and case studies. RC Kabulasoke Gomba and the International partner club will jointly prepare the Terms of Reference for a final external evaluation, and Rotary Kabulasoke Gomba and the International partner club will be responsible for reporting to Rotary Foundation.
As with previous similar projects implemented by our Rotarians working with Caritas Kiyinda Mityana Diocese, Rotary- USAID WASH Project and other Non-government Organizations, on completion of the project period, the school management committees will continue to monitor operation of the WASH facilities, and the formed girls' clubs will help to monitor hygiene practices (to ensure that these are embedded), with periodic oversight by RC Kabulasoke Gomba.
It should be noted that right from the planning process, the district local government officials are involved in the whole process. Our club is represented and always invited for District Water and Sanitation Coordination Committee (DWSCC) planning meetings.
We always consult them about the areas where we want to implement projects. This is done to avoid duplication of work as well as strengthening networking with the district local government.
The Evaluation of project activities shall be periodical using formative, process, mid-term, and summative approaches.
We shall use a participatory approach in the implementation of project activities. This methodology shall bring on board all relevant stakeholders and has been used in previous WASH projects implemented by some of our members in their organizations of work, and involves community participation at all stages (project planning, implementation and monitoring). Contractors will build the change/ wash rooms, Tank platforms and also fix Sato pans in pit latrines as well as fixing water gutters.
RC Kabulasoke Gomba will be responsible for project coordination, implementation and monitoring and will liaise with the District Water and Sanitation Coordination Committee DWSCC (for water quality testing, water chain management and maintenance), and the District Health Inspectors (for technical advice on health issues and promotion of local by-laws on school hygiene and sanitation).
Sustainability of the project:
We shall lobby for setting up of bylaws by the local government, to support Menstrual Hygiene Management in schools and these will ensure that menstrual hygiene is included in district and sub counties strategic plans. This will lead to regular awareness campaigns on menstrual hygiene management by the district health office, education officers/ inspectors.
We shall encourage schools to create a vote for Menstrual Hygiene Management in the school budget. Thereby availing some necessities like soap, buckets and basins that can be used by school girls during menstruation periods.
The formed Girl's clubs in schools will help girls experiencing their first menstruation periods on proper menstrual management.
The selected schools management committees and the Parents teachers' associations, will also have the responsibility of carrying on the project activities after RC Kabulasoke Gomba has exited. They will actively monitor Menstrual Hygiene Management in the schools.
Right from the project inception, all stake holders will be involved in all stages of the project. This will enable them to own the project and will be in position to sustain the benefits of the project for a long period of time after the funding has ended.
We are to train the village rotary community corps in making re-usable sanitary pads reason being the girls trained in schools will reach a certain stage when they have completed their levels of studies in those particular schools and the teachers will be transferred to other schools hence losing the training goal. However these village rotary corps will keep on passing the training knowledge and information to every stage and this can also be their source of income. When they make re-usable sanitary pads for sale or train other schools in re-usable sanitary pads making.