Video on Cow dung used in sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia (powered cowdung as an absorbent material inside cloth pads)

  • Maboshe
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Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

Community women and school going girls using cow dung has sanitary pads, due to high sanitary costs, pieces of cloths, cow dung, blankets, etc are used to absorb the flow of their monthly menstruation. Traditionally, the issue of menstruation is a private matter that is not discussed openly.

Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) under its project called the Maboshe Sanitary Towel Initiative (MSTI) program is working to make a difference in a community woman and school going girl child’s life by providing Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) services such as MHM training, distribution of sanitary pads and lobbying for support to equip girls in schools and chilombola on how to make reusable pads to aid girl pupils as poor menstrual hygiene may cause stigma and ill health leading to school absenteeism and increased school drop-out rates.

For girls in school a quality high-school education can transform a girl's future, yet around the district many adolescent girls miss school or even drop out altogether for one simple reason menstruation: - Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia link - maboshememorialmmc.blogspot.com/2019/02/...estern.html?spref=tw

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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

Dear Maboshe,

Thank your for sharing the video with us. I understand that the video features a female trainer who promotes the use of powered cowdung as an absorbent material inside cloth pads. It would be interesting to know:
- What is the feed back of girls on this product? Do they like it and does it enable them to attend school?
- Is this kind of pad considered to be healthy?

Thanks!

Cécile

Cécile Laborderie
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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

Dear Cécile

Thank you, the video feature a female trainer who promotes the use of powered cow dung in absentees of sanitary pads as an absorbent material inside cloth pads.

- The feed back of girls on this product from the girls talked to, is that school menstruating girls in primary schools say that they use cow dung because they cannot afford to buy proper sanitary pad. For a girl to keep clean and prevent any leakages they may need more than one sanitary towel and those with a heavy flow may need up to 4 of them a day is very costly and can lead to the spending of more than US$20 (K200) per month and this is relatively expensive to people who are living in rural areas.

- It’s quite unfortunate that in rural areas of Mongu district in Zambia and in the 21st Century there are girls who cannot be able to gain access to sanitary pads. Some of the girls talked to said it’s a good traditional pad that acts as a sponge and absorbs the blood when it passes through the cloth for them not to miss 3 to 4 days of primary schools per month, which translates to a loss of 36 to 48 school days per year, not experiencing isolation and rejection from their fellow pupils who regard them as „contaminated‟, „dirty‟ and „impure‟, This means per term a girl pupil may miss up more days of study, lack of cheaper reusable sanitary pads in rural communities is one of the issues of absenteeism for school menstruating girls during their menstrual cycle, which force them to stay home, fall behind in school and eventually drop out of school, and this is a hug problem. School menstruating girls are also faced with high cost of the sanitary pads and poor menstrual hygiene knowledge and sanitation facilities including inadequate water for washing, lack of soap, no privacy and non-functioning or insufficient toilets and inability to buy healthy sanitary pads.

- According to the findings done by the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) from Doctors in obstetrics and gynecology, say girls and women suffer from gynecological diseases due to the improper use of sanitary products. World Health Organization (WHO) claims that 63% of gynecological diseases are caused by using poor quality sanitary products as girls and women are vulnerable to infection during this delicate period and weakened immunity can lead to more serious health threats. Since reusable sanitary pads are high cost for them to buy they feel cow dung is the only answer because its traditional, local, cheaper to make and it has been used by they parents “foremothers” way back before the introduction of the pads that are in the shops or markets today with no health cases reported to health centre concerning cow dung so far.

Hope i have answered your questions?

Thanks!
Patrick Maboshe

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  • SusannahClemence
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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

I'm curious to see the rest of the demonstration with the folded blanket.
I saw this the the other day:
becomingkindred.com/2013/11/10/20131110l...kf5uvm9xktjbttx9fyk/
It's good that the cloths can be opened out to dry, bad that they require close- fitting (machine-knit) knickers.
Also this:
abundanceonadime.blogspot.com/2011/01/ho...ual-pads-in.html?m=1
The above maker suggests holding in place with safety pins. I believe that's what menstruators did in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Maybe a pin-free solution can be created like the nifty belt shown in the video?
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Re: Cow dung used in sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia (powered cowdung as an absorbent material inside cloth pads)

Hi Patrick,

You said:
"Since reusable sanitary pads are high cost for them to buy they feel cow dung is the only answer because its traditional, local, cheaper to make and it has been used by they parents “foremothers” way back before the introduction of the pads that are in the shops or markets today with no health cases reported to health centre concerning cow dung so far."

I am a bit confused. I guess this cow dung material is better than nothing, but like Cecile I'd wonder about the health aspects. When the cow dung gets wet from the menstrual blood, couldn't pathogens contained in the cowdung enter the girl's vaginas? I don't know enough about how such pathogens move around, so I am just wondering.

Are these cow dung sanitary pads something you would support (in the absence of something better) or is it too risky?

Has anyone thought about introducing menstrual cups in that area? Might seem expensive at first but one cup lasts for many years, so it's cost effective after a short while.
See e.g. here a thread from Uganda:
forum.susana.org/231-menstrual-cups/2307...ups-by-womena-uganda

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Elisabeth

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Re: Cow dung used in sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia (powered cowdung as an absorbent material inside cloth pads)

Hi Elisabeth,

Sorry for late reply. Yes, rural women and girls talked to said reusable sanitary pads are too expensive for them to buy they feel cow dung is the only answer because its traditional, local, cheaper to make and it has been used by they parents “foremothers” way back before the introduction of the pads that are in the shops or markets today with no health cases reported to health centre concerning cow dung so far, with me cases of using cow dung has a pads are reported to health centres but its like health personal don't ask these rural girls and women on the type of menstrual products one is using in relations to using unhygienic products, just attending to them at a health centre and not told to have a hygiene products in relation to menstrual issue."

According to the findings done by the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) from Doctors in obstetrics and gynecology, say girls and women suffer from gynecological diseases due to the improper use of sanitary products. World Health Organization (WHO) claims that 63% of gynecological diseases are caused by using poor quality sanitary products as girls and women are vulnerable to infection during this delicate period and weakened immunity can lead to more serious health threats.

Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) stands against the usage of cow dung sanitary pads because of gynecological diseases, more community education and empowerment for girls and women in rural communities is needed on behavior change in the usage of cow dung pads which are so too risk for them. The information gap on menstrual hygiene management among rural girls and women is mainly attributed to: -
 Lack of sanitary materials, including underwear.
 Inadequate access to private, safe and appropriate latrines, bathing facilities, drying areas and waste disposal mechanisms.
 Lack of information and knowledge about menstruation (especially adolescent girls) and how to use sanitary materials (including underwear).
 Significant loss of privacy and dignity (especially in overcrowded, temporary or transit situations).
 Anxiety and embarrassment around leakage of blood, and discomfort associated with menstruation
 Cultural taboos and restrictions which can impact access to services and daily life. Remember that some girls may need additional assistance or support, such as girls with physical and/or learning disabilities, mobility restrictions, transgender persons or unaccompanied and separated girls.
 Lack of sanitary protection materials – leading to embarrassment and stress due to leakage, smell and teasing.
 Less concentration and participation, including not standing up to answer questions – due to embarrassment, stress, concern over leakage or smell and discomfort.
 Lack of private facilities and water supply – for washing and drying soiled clothing, cloths or hands.
 Absence – due to a lack of facilities and services at school to manage menstruation.
 Fear of using the latrine – in case others discover menstrual blood.
 Inability to keep clean – in some cultures girls and women are not allowed to bathe or wash themselves during menstruation.
 Bodily smell or the smell of used sanitary materials that have to be taken home for disposal– causing discomfort or stress.
 Lack of knowledge – girls approaching menstruation are especially lacking in information about the process, leaving them scared and embarrassed.
 Exclusion from sports – due to discomfort, concern over leakage or because of cultural restrictions
 Traditional practices and beliefs surrounding the onset of menarche.
 Lack of confidence and opportunities in discussing menstruation-related topics
 In addition to persisting taboos, school menstruating girls capacity to manage their periods is affected by a number of other factors, including limited access to affordable and hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options leaving many to manage their periods in ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic ways.
 In some contexts, natural materials such as mud, leaves, dung or animal skins are used to manage the menstrual flow, these problems are further exacerbated by insufficient access to safe and private toilets and lack of clean water and soap for personal hygiene. As a result, menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed.
 Lack of more sensitization on women and girls menstrual hygiene management and the provision of sanitary facilities in schools.
 Lack of sanitary facilities and affordable sanitary products in schools have contributed to some school menstruating girls dropping out of school and increased susceptibility to infection.
 Poor sanitation result in increased incidents of disease which can lead to poor attendance and performance at school

Menstrual hygiene is top on the agenda for the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) because MMC prioritize girls’ education. That is why Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) is doing everything possible to ensure the girl child remains in school.

In Western province, Zambia, a sanitary pad costs an average of $2 to $5 for a pack of 10 pads, while most families live below the poverty threshold of $1 per day. The high cost of sanitary pads in Western province has made them inaccessible for poor girls and women in rural areas. In some situations, rural girls and women consider them expensive option ranging from US2 (K20) to US5 (K50) for a pack of 10 pads. Despite this being the case, most rural girls and women are unable to buy enough pads to see them finish the menstrual period. As a result, some menstruating girls in schools and women resort in using other unconventional means such as children’s diapers, cow dung and pieces of cloths. Other rural menstruating girls and women buy sanitary pads from outside their communities because they are relatively cheap and others buy sanitary pads at wholesale price in during visit to Mongu town while others opt to buy them from shopping mall once that chance comes.

The common types of sanitary materials used were children’s diapers, cow dung and pieces of cloths. . The cost of using the menstrual hygiene facilities as well as the cost of buying the sanitary towels leaves girls and women at a more vulnerable state because of expensive pads in rural, most girls and women who can afford to buy sanitary pads end up going home or into the bush to change and dispose used sanitary towels.

Western is a poorest province in Zambia at 82.2% (CSO) 2010 poverty levels where general awareness of proper sanitation is next to zero, due to extreme poverty and illiteracy, people observe poor hygiene practices.

Western province is faced with poor or bad service delivery to roads, communication, employment, etc not a single NGO or persons are willing to work in rural areas of this province to introduce any type of service delivery to rural people or menstrual products.

On menstrual cups in rural area, it will be a good move to introdue them in rural areas because of the product duration, rural girls and women talked to said haven't seen anyone menstrual cup in rural areas. To solve these challenges, Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) is sought for a long-term partnership with other NGOs, to reach out to rural school girls and women with menstrual cups or sanitary pads, bridge the knowledge gap through menstrual hygiene education, raise menstrual hygiene champions and pads making.

At this moment Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) through Maboshe Small Village Bank Fund (MSVBF) is doing it best to address the following:
 Breaking the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) plays in enabling girls and women to reach their full potential in living a health life by promoting hygiene. Increased girls’ presence and concentration in school activities.
 Reduced incidence of rape and abuse among poor school girls who search for money to purchase menstrual hygiene materials.
 Reduced incidence of disease and death from unhygienic menstrual practices among girls through information.
 Curbing the spread of taboos and myths associated with menstruation, including restriction from certain social activities such as playing with friends, cooking, sleeping in the same room as family members and entering places of worship.
 Facilitate the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Zambia.
 Increased knowledge of menstrual hygiene management among the younger generation, who would serve as change agents in their communities.

Regards,
Executive Director
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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

It would be good to get some reliable, objective data on the the health benefits and risks of using cow dung as a menstrual absorbent. It would be a shame to reject a cheap, traditional material out hand, unless it is clearly proved to be damaging.
Yoghurt, derived from bacteria found in the reproductive tracts of animals, is widely and effectively used as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections; it seems quite plausible that cow dung may also have beneficial or protective microbes in it. And it may also carry some risks. Research would be useful, especially as cow-dung is such a widely-used and ubiquitous substance in many people's lives.
Who knows, perhaps health stores in the industrialised world may soon be marketing health-giving cow-dung menstrual products!

I am not sure that menstruation is a "delicate" period in terms of catching (or even transmitting) infections. Menstruation, while often uncomfortable, is a healthy bodily function, indicative of wellness. Indeed, it is often experienced by menstruators to be a cleansing, flushing part of the cycle, preparatory to the renewal phase.
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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

Susannah,

I agree with you for effective usage of cow dung has a sanitary pads in rural areas for our girls and women who can't afford to buy menstrual absorbent from shops it would be wise to have a research on how reliable cow dung as a menstrual absorbent and objective data on the the health benefits and risks of using it.

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Re: Video on Cow dung used has sanitary pads in Mongu district, Western Province of Zambia.

HI Patrick and all,

very interesting discussion ongoing!
The use of cow dung is also common in rural parts of Central Asia,
We made an extensive survey in rural schools interviewing hundreds of school children, see details here:
www.susana.org/_resources/documents/defa...582-7-1553869460.pdf

Would be interesting to keep in touch to follow up on this topic

best regards
Claudia

Claudia Wendland
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