Feasibility of reusable menstrual products in humanitarian programming

Organisation: WoMena Uganda

Partners: Welthungerhilfe, Mbarara University of Science and Technology

Location: Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Uganda

Type of grant: Core – recognition

Status: Ongoing

  • Household latrine, tippy tap and bathing shelter in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. Households in villages where WHH works are provided with materials to build a household latrine, including wooden poles, a slab and a tippy tap. Latrines and bathing shelters are shared by all family members. Credit: WoMena Uganda

  • WHH Community Health Club members in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, attending an exploratory group discussion facilitated by WoMena to better understand challenges faced by refugee women within the settlement. Credit: WoMena Uganda.

  • Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in West Nile is one of the world’s largest refugee settlements, with a population of 287,801 mainly South Sudanese refugees. It spans approximately 250 km2 with 5 Zones. The project will take place in Zone 1, pictured here, Zone 3 and four neighbouring host villages. Credit: WoMena Uganda

  • Focus Group discussion led by one of WoMena’s trainers at the community health clubs in the refugee host villages . (Photo credit: WoMena Uganda)

  • Trained community facilitators participating in a translation exercise with WoMens trainers in a training of trainers (ToT) session in Yumbe. (photo credit: WoMena Uganda)

  • Translation exercise into the four languages spoken by refugee and host participants in WoMena Uganda’s ToT session in Yumbe. (photo credit: WoMena Uganda)

  • Community facilitators participating in the piloting of the adapted evaluation tools tested by WoMena Uganda to assess participant learning via pictorial voting. (photo credit: WoMena Uganda)


This study aims to assess the feasibility of integrating reusable menstrual health products into humanitarian programming, and provide practical guidance to humanitarian actors in addressing menstrual health challenges faced by refugee women.

WHAT IS THE HUMANITARIAN NEED?

Globally girls and women often struggle to manage their menstruation safely and comfortably. The far-reaching implications of inadequate menstrual health management (MHM) for the physical, social and mental wellbeing of women and girls are often exasperated in humanitarian contexts, where they have less coping mechanisms. Humanitarian minimum standards have, for some time, recognised the importance of MHM. However there is a lack of research into effective interventions to improve MHM within the complex humanitarian landscape, and a lack of practical guidance on delivery of appropriate interventions across the humanitarian crisis lifespan, from acute to long-term situations.

WHAT IS THE INNOVATIVE SOLUTION?

The project will assess the feasibility of integrating menstrual health education and the distribution of a menstrual hygiene kit, containing either a menstrual cup or reusable pads, into existing programming within Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. The project will be implemented by our partner Welthungerhilfe for a duration of eight months. Community based actors selected from among community health clubs, livelihoods groups and community hygiene promoters will be trained in the delivery of menstrual health training, community sensitisation and provision of support throughout the intervention. Community sensitisation activities will also target the wider community, including boys and men.

Humanitarian stakeholders working within refugee settlements within West Nile will be engaged in participatory stakeholder meetings aimed at developing practical, usable guidelines for humanitarian actors, based on existing humanitarian structures and lessons learnt from project implementation.

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES?

2,000 women will have improved menstrual health management resulting in overall increased dignity and wellbeing. The targeted communities will have fostered more supportive environments for MHM and MHM stakeholders engaged in the project will have increased knowledge and expertise on MHM interventions.

This project will build the evidence base on implementation of MHM interventions within a refugee settlement context, particularly on the acceptance and feasibility of introduction of reusable pads and menstrual cups. This evidence will be used to inform MHM intervention design and implementation in refugee settings through the production of technical guidance and recommendations for how menstrual cups and reusable pads can be integrated and scaled-up, to enable other humanitarian organisations to replicate such interventions in other humanitarian contexts.


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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