Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

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  • alisonweber
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Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

Dear Colleagues,

I am excited to share some news on behalf of Biomass Controls PBC. We are working on a project to develop an innovative technology solution to provide safe menstrual pad disposal , in partnership with Brown University. I have attached the announcement and look forward to connecting with others working in this space. We welcome feedback and collaborators!

Thank you,
Ali Weber

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  • Chaiwe
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Re: Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

Hello Alison,

This sounds interesting!! Particularly what caught my attention when I read the press brief attached is that this is an innovation targeting vulnerable communities of women in sub-Saharan Africa. This is certainly a welcome intervention considering the challenges faced by the target ground surrounding the subject.

The article states:

“The goal of this project,” Weber said, “is to develop a menstrual pad hygiene disposal technology that is acceptable, desirable, and accessible for menstruators. 

This is certainly not an easy endeavour considering acceptability and desirability vary across different religious, cultural, and social settings within different communities of African women. How does the project plan to overcome these potential hurdles? Which communities particularly are being targeted for research and piloting?

The article further states:

Some of the technical challenges of this project are identifying a widely available fuel source for combustion, and ensuring the technology can process pads in quick succession. 

It appears here that combustion is most likely the disposal option for this technology... Some cultures discourage the burning of menstrual blood due to many cultural myths. Particularly this is the case within communities that I have worked in within Zambia. At masters level, I conducted research on the subject and had quite some astonishing outcomes on practices and beliefs surrounding disposal. Would such technology be used at the domestic level? or rather at the community level? what would the cost factor look like?

I am keen to hear more about the possibilities and perhaps even support the initiative where possible.

Kind Regards,
Chaiwe
SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ from June 2021 to June 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • alisonweber
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Re: Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

Hi Chaiwe,

Thank you for your interest in this project! It's great to engage with others who are passionate about menstrual health.

I entirely agree with your assessment that preferences for what types of technology will be acceptable and desirable will vary by community, and within communities as well. The initial work for this project was done by YLabs, who did really thoughtful work in the Bidi Bidi Refugee  Settlement in Uganda. You can see some of the information about their project here:  www.ylabsglobal.org/work/all/cocoon

We are leaning on what they learned from the women and girls they worked with in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement as we do the first prototype. We are working to identify communities where we can pilot the systems, and ultimately we will incorporate user feedback at each step of this project. 

You're correct that we will use combustion for this system. We have heard from a few different communities (for example, in the Philippines) that burning is not an acceptable approach to disposal of MH products. I would be very interested in learning more about your masters work in Zambia - do you have any information you could share?

Right now the technology is scaled for community level use. We do not yet have final cost information, but are aiming to be less expensive than available electric incinerators over a 10 year cost of ownership. 

I'd be very interested to learn more about your experience if you would like to talk sometime.

Thank you,
Alison
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  • Chaiwe
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Re: Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

Dear Alison,

I had a good look at the BB refugee project implemented by Y-labs and it is quite an interesting experience. It would be great to learn about the outcomes in the sense of the community in the camp and their acceptance aspects i.e. how did they overcome the stereotypes around an isolated space for menstrual hygiene management and knowing that communities (normally women and girls) prefer to keep menstruation a secret so they don't really want it to be evident that they are on their menstrual cycles? I think that will be something very interesting to hear about.

It would be great to share the Zambian experience, particularly the work that I did for my master's in Linda compound. I will email you separately to share the details of that and see how it can support the development of this process. Also, with respect to the example given from the Philippines, I think it's quite interesting to learn about similar experiences with respect to the burning of menstrual material in relation to some African cultures. Oceans apart, but quite some similarities there. Do you happen to have any feedback on what their concerns are with respect to burning? or what their cultural beliefs are? 

I look forward to engaging bilaterally and seeing how best the Zambian experience can support this great initiative.

Kind Regards,
Chaiwe
SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ from June 2021 to June 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaiwe-mushauko-sanderse-21709129/
Twitter: @ChaiweSanderse

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  • alisonweber
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Re: Menstrual Pad Safe Disposal Partnership

Dear Chaiwe,

It's great to hear from you again. I agree that it would be great to share experiences. Please reach out anytime via email - alison[at]biomasscontrols.com, and we can talk more!

Best regards,
Alison
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