At the 2014 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Day celebrations in Zambia, YASH Pharmaceuticals partnered with USAID/Zambia’s SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) project to provide 125 MHM kits for girls at Kabulonga Girl’s Secondary School in Lusaka. The popularity of the reusable pad-making demonstration at the event spurred YASH to undertake its own production of reusable pads.
“Life in rural Zambia is unbearable.” This is the story that is always heard among newly trained teachers who are posted in rural areas. This reaction is due to the perception that rural schools have poor or inadequate water and sanitation facilities.
SPLASH’s comprehensive WASH in Schools program includes a strong menstrual hygiene management (MHM) component. Having the confidence to attend school at all times can make the difference between succeeding and dropping out for many adolescent girls.
What a village headman and a school teacher learn about sanitation and menstrual hygiene, respectively, during SPLASH education sessions calls into question old beliefs and has a lasting and profound impact on the individuals and their communities.
After the cholera epidemic tore through Migori County in January–February 2015, Ministry of Public Health officials discovered a surprise— two communities in Rongo subcounty, the epicenter of the epidemic, experienced zero cases of cholera. Why did these two villages, Kauma and Kanyangiela, not present any cholera cases, and why were they seen as safe havens amidst a strong outbreak despite being initially considered areas of high risk? The Ministry of Health (MOH) sent a team of investigators to examine the situation.
SPLASH accompanies the installation of water points at school with outreach to the community to ensure all beneficiaries contribute to maintenance and upkeep and that behaviors taught at school will be carried over at home.
Building new sanitation facilities and providing functioning water points to schools is just the first step in the USAID–funded SPLASH project’s goal of creating healthy school environments that encourage learning and achievement.
Throughout the SPLASH districts, head teachers repeat the observation that attendance improves and enrollment increases when SPLASH installs new water points, toilets, and washrooms. The SPLASH School Outcome Study will soon quantify these jumps.
SPLASH in Zambia’s Eastern Province has served as a model for the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education to demonstrate: integration of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into schools and the curriculum.
James Yatich, a public health officer in Kenya’s Central Province, has been supporting frontline community health workers involved in home-based care for people living with HIV. James realized that bedridden clients who could not use the toilet on their own posed a major challenge. “When I told them that they had to use the toilet to prevent diarrhea, they asked me how?”