Published on: 26/05/2021
Through the MHM Coalition hosted in the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), MHM efforts have been promoted including Parliamentary discussions on MHM and incorporation of MHM in the National Development Plan. In 2020, with funding from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and coordination by IRC Uganda, the MoES embarked on the development of a five-year national strategic plan for Menstrual Health and Hygiene.
The process started with a situational analysis of how MHH issues were currently being addressed in relevant sectors. This was followed by a mapping of MHM partners, programmes, approaches and tools. The Situation Analysis report presents the findings of the situational analysis, describes the MHH challenges, and presents recommendations for the way forward.
This article presents a summary of the study findings and provides a status update on the recommendations of the study, by the Government of Uganda.
|knowledge||generally knowledge about MHH is limited. The role of parents in passing on basic knowledge and information is minimal. Culture locks men and boys from women's menstrual issues.|
|access to information||right and adequate MHH information is limited. For school girls, a major source of information are schools (61%), peers (45%), workmates (37%) and CSOs/NGOs (27%).|
|access and use of MHH materials||disposable pads are most commonly used among school girls and career women. Due to prohibitive costs, girls and women especially in the rural areas resort to using pieces of cloths as alternatives.|
|access to water||of the 353 respondents (comprising of girls, boys, teachers, community men and women), only 207 representing 59% had regular access to water. Most water sources in schools are not conveniently located near wash rooms and changing rooms.|
|access to sanitation facilities||86% of the districts have separate school toilet facilities for boys, girls and staff. Pupil stance ratio ranges from 49:1 to 103:1, over and above the national standard of 45:1. Less than 50% of schools had wash rooms. Changing rooms are a rare facility in schools as are handwashing facilities. ~20% of girls and boys indicated having a handwashing facility at school.|
|waste disposal||80% of girls and women dispose their used pads in latrines. Other places for waste disposal include bushes and rubbish pits. There are concerns that some cultures prohibit the burning of used menstrual pads.|
|access to other MHH support||only 3 of the 14 districts provided emergency clothing at school. Out of the 79% women and girls that indicate experiencing menstrual pain, only 28% have access to pain killers. Few schools were found to provide soap and basins to the girls and female teachers. Only 30 out of the 120 teachers interacted with indicated having had a training in MHM.|
|social challenges||traditional life styles in some communities impede a shift to adoption of better menstrual hygiene management practices. Low education levels affect the adoption of modern MHH practices, especially in rural areas.|
|economic challenges||widespread poverty especially in rural areas limits women and girls to afford decent, sanitary materials like pads. Schools have limited funds to provide basic facilities, like water, wash and changing rooms, rest rooms, handwashing facilities, and drying facilities.|
|environmental challenges||poor menstrual waste disposal is largely attributed to lack of resources to provide appropriate facilities. Waste disposal education is not emphasised under the hygiene and sanitation programmes.|
Based on the findings the Ministry of Education has developed a series of recommendations, of which the full set can be found in the report. Till date, the Ministry has made progress by:
Next to the above actions, the report expressed the need to develop a multi-stakeholder approach towards MHH interventions and the need for a clear and formal multi-sectoral coordination mechanism for menstrual hygiene management at all levels in the country; from national to local government level. As a first action on this, a Terms of Reference is being developed for constituting a National inter-ministerial Steering Committee.
And while current MHH interventions focus mainly on public primary schools, the Ministry adopted is now spearheading the development of a training manual for women and girls out of school on MHH.