School children (both girls and boys) in Uganda’s northern Amuru and Gulu regions are being taught how to make sanitary pads using cheap, locally available materials. This is one of the measures being undertaken to increase girls’ retention in primary schools. Only 38 per cent of eligible girls are enrolled in primary schools in Gulu in 2011, against a national rate of 70 per cent.
The reusable sanitary pads are made from soft cotton cloth covered with polythene to protect leakage. The pads can be washed and last several months. Local shops stock sanitary pads that cost on average 5,000 Ugandan shillings (about US$2.50) a packet, which is too expensive for most rural families in northern Uganda.
Besides a lack of sanitary pads, few or no private toilet facilities for girls as well as a shortage of female teachers are said to contribute to adolescent girls’ absenteeism from school.
Development partners are helping to build changing rooms for girls in some schools, training female teachers on guidance and counselling skills and are supporting the production and free distribution of sanitary pads.
At Awich Primary School, where the project was launched in 2010, girls’ enrolment has increased from 268 in 2010 to 310 in 2011.
Source: IRIN, 21 Jul 2011