Dignified menstrual hygiene for South Sudanese Refugees in UgandaIn a refugee settlement in Uganda, the Danish Refugee Council distributes reusable menstruation pads and other hygiene items. The girls and women in the settlement now feel more comfortable and safe with their hygiene.
On the wall of a shelter in Rhino camp refugee settlement in Uganda hanged a banner proclaiming: “All women and girls should be able to manage their menstruation hygienically, safely, in privacy and with dignity.”
Inside the shelter, girls and women lined up to receive reusable pads, buckets, undergarments, soap and towels from staff of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
The distributions in Rhino Camps’ Eden Zone, is part of a range of menstrual hygiene management activities being implemented by DRC with funding from EU Humanitarian Aid.
”We are giving out the materials to women and girls between the age of 12-49 to ensure that menstrual hygiene is safe and comfortable,” said Rael Akakoro, a DRC Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) staff at Rhino camp.
In addition to the distribution of the materials to a total of 1,500 women and girls in Rhino camp, DRC carries out sensitization activities on menstrual hygiene with teachers, parents and the refugee community to increase their awareness on menstruation.
DRC is also constructing latrines with changing rooms in schools to offer girls privacy during their menstruation. Most schools in the refugee settlement have latrines with no changing rooms for girls, a limited supply of water which affects the menstrual health hygiene of school-going girls.
The four pieces of reusable pads given to the women and girls can last for a period of one year, lifting off the burden of how to manage menstrual hygiene for young women with hardly any income like Lillias Monday, 18 year’s old.
”In Rhino we don’t have Always [a sanitary pad brand]. We use clothe during menstruation but it is not very safe. I am happy that today I have received these pads.”
Women in emergency and displacement contexts face considerably more challenges in managing menstruation due to limited spaces. Taboos within displaced communities also pose a challenge to menstrual health, according to Rael Akakoro, the DRC WASH staff.
”Girls are told that during menstruation, they should not bath otherwise they risk becoming infertile. This affects personal hygiene predisposing them to fungal and bacterial infections.”
DRC’s awareness activities on menstruation in the refugee communities in Rhino have enabled some women to begin speaking openly about the subject.
”Menstruation happens with all women,” said Colleta Mikel, a 36-year-old mother of one and resident of Rhino camp for the last one year.
”The materials we have received today will help us because many women and girls cannot afford to regularly buy sanitary pads. What we have got is reusable. We only need to wash it with clean water and soap after use,” said Mikel.
DRC is one of the menstrual health management partners in Rhino camp, working in the settlement’s Eden Zone.
The 294kms2 Rhino camp refugee settlement is located in the West Nile region of Uganda. The government of Uganda puts the population of the settlement at 123,363, half of these are women. The majority of the population in Rhino camp fled conflict in South Sudan.