Towards a sustainable solution for school menstrual hygiene management: cases of Ethiopia, Uganda, South-Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe
African schoolgirls face considerable challenges as a result of the real biological phenomenon of menstruation and its management. Menstruation is seen as a secret and is regarded as taboo. As a result girls are not receiving adequate support from home, schools, or the community. They are left on their own to address the challenge which consequently affects their school performance. Development interventions that deal only with the supply of materials cannot resolve the problem in a sustainable manner. We need to have a comprehensive approach that can improve: knowledge, attitude, and practice of girls, parents, and the community; sanitary materials supply; the policy environment; and the physical infrastructure. The issue of menstrual hygiene management is gaining recognition as part of the development agenda for improving girls' school participation. But there is little research and few practical case studies have been conducted to inform policy and practice. SNV Netherlands Development Organization is addressing menstrual hygiene under its WASH in School programme in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This article highlights baseline survey findings of the current menstrual hygiene management practices in the project areas of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe and recommends the approach piloted.