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It’s nearly a year since the final stages of the construction work were completed, and it’s been fantastic to see the impact our Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) and Menstrual Health Management (MHM) Programme has had on the 16,000 students who attend our three partner schools in Zanzibar.

In this blog, we want to share with you the latest updates we have received from each head teacher at our partner schools on the programme and the continued work that is happening to help every girl feel confident in managing their menstruation so that they don’t miss out on vital education.

Kinuni School

Kinuni School, which educates over 6,100 students, was the last school to benefit from the programme. Construction was completed in June 2023, with 13 latrines, 11 hand washing stations and a menstrual health management room built.

Zanzibar WASH Programme

Teachers across our three partner schools have been trained to make reusable sanitary pads for the students to use. So far, Kinuni School has produced 320 pads and distributed 316 to their students.

We revisited our initial questionnaire with the students to see the impact of the new sanitation facilities, hygiene and menstrual health workshops and the pad programme.

“The pads programme helped increase student attendance from 58% to 86%.” Bi Mwanaisha Omar Mussa, Kinuni Headteacher.

Before the programme was rolled out, only 27% of girls felt confident managing menstruation. In March 2024, the girls retook the survey and 100% of them now either agree or strongly agree that they feel confident managing menstruation.

“The pad programme gave me awareness and built confidence to study freely during my period.” Aisha Mohamed Haji, Kinuni Student.

Previously, menstrual health was not widely spoken about at school or home, with it being a taboo topic for many.

We worked with the teachers at our partner schools to increase their sensitivity to menstrual health management and equipped them to deliver education workshops to both boys and girls.

Before the workshops, 0% of girls felt comfortable talking to their mother, sisters and friends about menstruation. In March 2024, the girls retook the survey and 100% of them now either agree or strongly agree that they feel comfortable talking to their mother, sisters and friends about menstruation.

With the support from parents, this new understanding of menstrual health and reducing the taboo around the subject will filter down to younger siblings, leading to improved hygiene at home and more positive attitudes toward menstruation in the wider community.

Fuoni School

Fuoni School was the first partner school we rolled out the WASH Programme to in 2021, and it’s amazing to see the tangible progress being made.

Teachers have produced and distributed 300 reusable pads for their students, and some of the students have nominated themselves as Menstrual Health Management Mentors. As mentors, they encourage younger students to approach them when they start their period so that they can provide support and ensure access to reusable sanitary pads. This not only means girls can easily and quickly receive the support they need, but also others can develop essential skills through being mentors.

Fuoni has also seen attendance increase from 60% to 90% since the programme started.

Kijito School

The aim of the WASH and MHM programme is to enable all students to reach their potential by reducing school absences due to hygiene-related illnesses or a lack of confidence in managing menstruation.

Zanzibar WASH Programme

Kijito School has seen the biggest increase in attendance, with a 66% attendance rate previously and now a 96% attendance rate. Students now have a better understanding of good hygiene practices and have access to reusable sanitary pads to manage their period. Teachers have produced and distributed 310 reusable sanitary pads.

What’s next

We will continue to monitor and evaluate the progress being made at our partner schools in Zanzibar, ensuring girls feel confident in managing their menstruation and new students receive the same support.

The pad programme will continue to be rolled out across our partner schools, providing fabric when needed so each girl can manage their period.

Menstrual Health Management Workshop

We are now excited to roll out the WASH Programme at three of our partner schools in Ghana. Construction work is already underway at Dornorgbor School. For a full update on the progress at Dornorgbor, click here.

The WASH Programme provides equal opportunity for girls and boys to reach their full potential at school by building better sanitation facilities and providing access to clean water, creating a more conducive environment for learning. To donate to the programme, please click here.

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