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.
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.
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.
WoMena Uganda reflects on what happened with this project when they were not able to get ethical approval to commence the study.View
In the second week of December, the WoMena team visited Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in West Nile, Uganda, as part of their HIF-funded feasibility assessment of reusable menstrual products in humanitarian programming. The purpose of the visit was two-fold: to prototype the new pictorial guide, which was developed due to illiteracy among the population, and to do a four-day training workshop with the study’s research assistants.View
In August 2018 WoMena Uganda, with their implementing partner Welthungerhilfe (WHH), visited Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in West Nile, Uganda, as part of their HIF-funded feasibility assessment of reusable menstrual products in humanitarian programming. The trip focused on recruiting and training research assistants and community facilitators. In carrying out this activity the WoMena Uganda team was reminded of the critical importance of language in menstrual health education and programming.View
“When we were brought here as refugees, it was really difficult because we as women started life from scratch…. it was really a challenge, many women are getting infections because of poor hygiene, using rags, dirty clothes, no proper bathing” Christine Wani, a journalist and refugee woman from South Sudan eloquently expresses the challenges women face in Bidibidi refugee settlement in West Nile, Northern Uganda, when managing their menstruation; challenges so great that she has taken it upon herself to source and provide reusable pads for women in the settlement.View
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