In addition to a lack of sanitary products, another dilemma is that there often are not enough proper facilities to dispose of feminine products. Another issue is the affordability of feminine products. There are a few organizations that are trying to make these products more affordable and accessible.
The lack of proper infrastructure for the disposal of feminine products makes females stressed and extremely anxious. The organization AFRIPads, originating from Uganda, also presents an alternative solution that reduces the need for disposal. Indeed, AFRIPads manufactures reusable sanitary pads that can be used for a minimum of 12 months. Also, these pads cost less than disposable sanitary pads, which makes them more affordable. Among AFRIpads products, they also have a “schoolgirl kit” that specifically addresses the needs of school-aged girls.
In Durban, South Africa, it was discovered that none of the bathrooms provided disposal bins. Without these bins, girls are left with the option of burning their used products or flushing them down the toilets. However, burning them may lead to a fire hazard. Also, flushing these products can cause sewage backflow, which is another major health hazard. Therefore, the solution to period poverty is much more complex than simply donating products. We must also consider where these products will end up.
In Burkina Faso, the BARKA Foundation builds Menstrual Health Management Cabins, which are private spaces where girls can take care of their menstrual hygiene and safely dispose of their menstrual products. If present in all African schools, these cabins could help make menstruation a hassle-free process, thus helping girls pursue their education while menstruating.
BARKA’s AfriCups are another reusable product. Each of these cups can last up to 10 years, making them both economically viable and environmentally sustainable. BARKA has already distributed these menstrual cups to high school girls in Fada N’Gourma, a city in Burkina Faso. In 2021, BARKA hopes to broaden these efforts to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Both AFRIPads and AfriCups reimagined standard single-use menstrual products, combining the fight against period poverty with a dedication to environmental sustainability.
As of right now, period poverty is still plaguing many African girls and inhibiting their education. This problem is not one with a simple solution. Rather, combatting period poverty requires increasing resources, building stable infrastructures, raising awareness, and considering the environment.
Still, with sustained efforts from the governments and NGOs, a future where menstruation is no longer a barrier to education seems entirely attainable. In our own effort to address period poverty, Girl Now Woman Later can draw on the experiences of these established NGOs and even plan for future collaboration.
This article ends the 2-part series of
Innovative Approaches to solving Period Poverty in Africa.
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