Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

In Nepal, women are still banished to ‘menstrual huts’ during their periods. It’s time to end this dangerous tradition

In Nepal, women are still banished to ‘menstrual huts’ during their periods. It’s time to end this dangerous tradition. Independent, May 24, 2017.

After seeing the practice of seclusion and the plight of these women, I believe that taboos around periods are not a cultural issue, they are a human rights issue 

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An example of a menstrual hut in remote areas of Nepal (Anjana Saud/Tatapani)

As a journalist and development professional living and working in Katmandu, I have had the chance to see menstruating women’s situation across Nepal from close quarters.

I found that the practice of isolating women during their period exists across the country in differing forms. The situation of women living at the rural areas is terrible.

In some places, women cannot be in their own homes during their period; in others women can be in the house, but not in the kitchen and worship room.

They are also forbidden from touching other people (especially male members of the family or neighbours) or cattle and from growing fruit and vegetables.

Read the complete article.

PMA2020 Menstrual Hygiene Management Briefs

PMA2020 Menstrual Hygiene Management Briefs

PMA2020 MHM Briefs are a one-page snapshot of select MHM indicators. PMA2020-horizontal-web-tagline

PMA2020 looks at how menstrual hygiene is managed across age groups and across wealth categories, including the types of materials used to collect menstrual blood, the main environments where MHM is practiced, and the safety, privacy, and cleanliness of these environments, among other metrics.

Briefs are available on Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia and other countries on the PMA2020 website.

FRESH webinar: Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies

Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies – Global guidelines and lessons learned from the Philippines

Presenters: Marni Sommer, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Jon Michael Villasenor, UNICEF Philippines
Time: 17 May 2017

Marni Sommer discussed the soon to be published Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Emergencies Toolkit, developed by Columbia University and the International Rescue Committee in partnership with the global humanitarian response community.

Jon Villasenor’s presentation was on the MHM response to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2014, where he will be discussing the actions taken in the immediate aftermath and over the longer recovery period.

 

In A First, Kerala Makes Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines Mandatory In All Schools

In A First, Kerala Makes Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines Mandatory In All Schools. India Times, May 19, 2017.

Kerala has become the first state in India to make sanitary napkin vending machines mandatory in all higher secondary schools. mhd-india

With just weeks left for the schools in the state to reopen after summer vacations, the government has mandated all schools to have vending machines from the beginning of the new academic year.

Read the complete article.

Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017 – Water Currents

Celebrated worldwide on May 28 each year, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) is a global initiative that brings together organizations, individuals, and the media to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene management (MHM). mhday

This issue of Water Currents contains information on MHD events, select 2017 and 2016 publications and videos on the topic, links to relevant websites, and news articles. (Photo Credit: USAID/WASHplus)

Events 
Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28, 2017. WASH United, 2017. The theme for 2017’s advocacy event is “Education about Menstruation Changes Everything.” MHD raises awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges. The MHD website features campaign materials, a list of events, and fact sheets and other resources.

Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies: Global Guidelines and Lessons Learned from the Philippines. UNESCO, May 2017. A recording of this webinar, held May 17, will soon be available on the Schools & Health website. Marni Sommer discussed the soon-to-be published Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies toolkit developed by Columbia University and the International Rescue Committee in partnership with the global humanitarian response community. Another presentation described the MHM response in the Philippines to Typhoon Haiyan.

Publications and Videos 
Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy Brief. SHARE, January 2017. This policy brief summarizes previous research on MHM, defines knowledge gaps that still exist, and sets out clear recommendations for improving policy and programs globally.

#InDeepShit

By Ingeborg Krukkert, Lead Asia Programmes | Sanitation and hygiene specialist, IRC

Human beings are being used to plug the gaps in failing sanitation systems – Bezwada Wilson.

#InDeepShit is the title of an event I attended on Saturday 22 April 2017. Talking about toilets and who is able to use one – or not; talking about who cleans them and how – sometimes literally with their hands deep in shit. I know this does not sound like an event a sane person would like to join on their day off. But you are mistaken! And I was not the only one. Around 80 young and critical people in the room showed that this was an event important enough to spend their free Saturday morning on.

I was triggered by the quote on the invitation saying: “Any human cannot clean somebody’s shit for the sake of roti. This is Independent India?”. The quote is from Bezwada Wilson, an Indian activist against manual scavenging. He was one of eight very interesting speakers invited to address the meeting. They covered a wide range of challenges: from barriers disabled people face when wanting to use a toilet (“we can’t hire you because we do not have a toilet for you”), to safety issues for transgender people (“we have progressive laws on paper, but this is not what I encounter in real life”), to accountability and manual scavenging.

Nine years

Almost nine years ago Bezwada Wilson was an inspiring and eloquent speaker at the IRC Symposium on Urban Sanitation for the Poor. Nine years and the same problems still need to be addressed. At that time he said: “sanitation is much broader than simply toilets. Effective sanitation also requires hygiene education – people have to change their practice as well as get access to toilets. It is inevitable that the main focus is on the early part of the chain (building toilets), but there is increasing awareness that the most difficult problems relate to the removal of faecal sludge […]. In many cities, treatment, disposal or reuse is not managed” and – as Bezwada Wilson put it so eloquently in his presentation during the symposium: “human beings are being used to plug the gaps in failing sanitation systems”.

Bezwada Wilson

Bezwada Wilson

Nine years later, this is exactly what is happening with the Swachh Bharat Mission. With the hard deadline of 2019 to reach the target of a toilet for every household, state and districts seem to have no choice but to focus on constructing toilets and on doing it fast. More than 700 million toilets to go…. There is no time to focus on use, no time to focus on what is happening with all that human waste after using the toilet, no focus on what happens when the pit is full, and no focus on who is emptying the toilet or how it is done.

Nine years of activism and there is still manual scavenging. Bezwada Wilson has not changed; he seems more motivated than ever. And with reason! It’s not only about dignity, safety is a huge issue too. Workers are dying, even in 2017, he points out referring to the recent sewage plant accident in Noida.

Chief Executive VK Madhavan from WaterAid India, however, also sees positive developments. He acknowledges that we cannot change where we are born, or in which family or caste. So true and yet so easy to forget: that privilege – or not – is no contribution of us as individuals, no contribution at all. What we can do is provide a space to those who are denied to speak up or to interact with the government. That is why WaterAid India together with Youth Ki Awaaz organised this event. Youth Ki Awaaz is India’s largest platform where young people can publish their stories to drive impact.

And this is what Bezwada Wilson has also done. He is founder and National Convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), a national movement committed to the total eradication of manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of all scavengers for dignified occupations. SKA was instrumental in eradicating manual scavenging in as many as 139 districts in India since 2009. He created a change of perspective. And he is not alone. Mrs Lali Bai, a former manual scavenger, also shared her experiences with us. She is now an activist and founder of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a national campaign for dignity and eradication of manual scavenging. For a long time many of us, including government officials, ignored or even denied the existence of manual scavenging. But there are many examples that manual scavenging is still going on as this picture from Cambodia shows.

Manual scavenger in Cambodia (photo by Danny Dourng)

Manual scavenger in Cambodia (photo by Danny Dourng)

Any shortcuts to change?

In India more and more authorities start to acknowledge the problem. Our role is to provide space to make this happen. It all goes terribly slowly though and I asked the panel if there is no shortcut to change. Nobody could answer that question. Can you?

The blog was originally posted on 24 April 2017 on the IRC website.

World Bank targets smarter sanitation communication for rural Ethiopia

By Peter McIntyre, IRC Associate

The World Bank in Ethiopia has commissioned a rapid survey of what motivates people to upgrade their latrines, with the aim of delivering behaviour change communication materials with greater impact.

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Sanitation rapid survey launch meeting Addis Abeba, 23 March 2017 (Photo: Sirak Wondimu)

The survey is being conducted in four regions, with the main target audiences being adult women, male heads of households, opinion leaders and existing sanitation businesses.

The aim is to pilot and produce materials that emphasise the dignity, prestige and status of having improved sanitation, rather than focusing only on health messages.

The WB decided a new approach was needed after Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) figures for 2016 suggested that only 4% of rural households in Ethiopia have improved toilets facilities while a further 2% have facilities that would be considered improved if they were not shared. This is well below the Joint Monitoring Program figure of 28% for improved latrines (although we understand this may be revised down to around 14%). Indeed, according to DHS, although access to some form of sanitation has risen, access to an improved latrine has declined in percentage terms over the past ten years. Most latrines in rural areas (55%) do not have an effective slab or lid while more than a third of rural households (39%) practise open defecation.

The Government of Ethiopia has a flagship programme to increase use of improved latrines to 82% by 2020.

At a launch meeting in Addis on 23 March 2017, social market consultant, Addis Meleskachew, said that this initiative will develop a memorable brand for marketing materials that will encourage the private sector to provide materials and will attract rural families to buy them.

Dagnew Tadesse,Hygiene and Environmental Health Case Team Leader for Ministry of Health, welcomed the initiative to attract business but emphasised that the GoE approach is based on a comprehensive health education strategy with multiple messages including hygiene awareness, handwashing and safe food, and said that these important messages should not be abandoned.

Jane Bevan, rural WASH Manager at UNICEF Ethiopia offered to share extensive data that UNICEF has collected for its country programme on attitudes to sanitation, which has identified the high cost of concrete slabs as a significant obstacle. She presented examples of low cost options for upgrading sanitation in a pilot project in Tigray region. It was agreed to collate all existing KAP studies and relevant data including research by SNV.

Monte Achenbach from PSI and John Butterworth from IRC spoke about the work being started by USAID Transform WASH to market innovative sanitation models. John Butterworth said there is a need to make people aware of what is available and to get materials to where they are needed.

The World Bank research is being conducted by 251 Communications.

This blog was originally posted on 5 April 2017 on the IRC website.