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What humanitarian need is being addressed?

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is increasingly recognised as a need in WASH responses. Current MHM interventions, however, are tailored to the needs of people without disabilities; the unique MHM needs of people with disabilities have only begun to be considered and these limited considerations have not extended to people with intellectual impairments. Without accessible information, menstruation can be confusing and frustrating for the person menstruating and those supporting them, which is exacerbated by rapid changes and displacement during emergencies. Humanitarian actors require clear information and easily implemented/contextualised packages in order to prioritise specific MHM needs of people with intellectual impairment.

What is the innovative solution and how will it improve existing humanitarian practice?

The project will document the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) barriers faced by people with intellectual impairments in different humanitarian settings, and present the humanitarian sector with innovative tools for addressing these barriers – enabling the prioritisation of the MHM needs of people with intellectual impairments in future responses.

Formative research into MHM barriers and subsequent pilots will take place with people with intellectual impairments and their carers in Vanuatu and Lebanon displaced by natural disasters and the Syrian crisis respectively.

Informed by the formative research, the proposed solution will adapt the Bishesta campaign developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and WaterAid. This was trialled in Nepal and successfully addressed MHM needs of people with intellectual impairments through using a combination of practical “period packs”. These packs equip people with intellectual impairments and their carer to better understand and manage their periods, as well as providing customised training and support for carers.

What are the expected outcomes?

The project is expected to shift humanitarian norms, resulting in increased prioritisation and interventions for people with intellectual impairments in emergency response, especially regarding Menstrual Hygiene Management. The project will seek to establish a robust evidence base which will inform the development of practical kits that are piloted and tested in different humanitarian settings, demonstrating suitability and scalability in different humanitarian contexts.

The project will achieve this through the following outcomes:

  • A robust evidence base on MHM interventions for people with intellectual impairment in humanitarian settings is established through a participatory process
  • Research findings are used to adapt and refine MHM tools for people with intellectual impairments in a humanitarian context
  • MHM tools for people with intellectual impairments are piloted and evaluated for use in humanitarian contexts
  • Advocacy for consideration of MHM for people with intellectual impairments & scale up of Bishesta tools for use in humanitarian contexts is conducted.

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