WASH & MHM Programme: What’s It All About?

You might have seen that African Adventures Foundation has recently been awarded funding for an exciting new Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Menstrual Health Management (MHM) programme in Zanzibar.

We can’t wait to get started on this vitally important new project, and we know that lots of our volunteers feel the same way, too. But what is the new WASH and MHM programme, why is it so important, and what exactly will we be doing? Read on to find out…

What is it? 

The programme will provide equal opportunity for 8,253 girls and 7,798 boys to reach their full potential at our three partner schools in Zanzibar: Kijito Upele, Fuoni and Kinuni. By constructing better sanitation facilities and providing access to clean water, we aim to create an environment that’s more conducive to learning, so that all children feel safe and able to attend school. The construction work will go hand-in-hand with a focus on improving knowledge and understanding of good hygiene and menstrual health management, so that girls feel able and confident enough to manage their menstruation. 

Through this programme, we’ll be supporting five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in line with our status as a Signatory to the United Nations Global Compact:

#3: Good health and well-being

#4: Quality education

#5: Gender equality

#6: Clean sanitation and water

#10: Reduced inequalities

The programme will improve sanitation facilities and provide access to clean water.

Why is it important?

All of our partner projects in Zanzibar currently have inadequate sanitation facilities. At Fuoni School, there are just four latrine toilets for 3,727 children, with no toilet paper or hand washing facilities. Similarly, at Kijito Upele School, there are just three latrine toilets for 6,212 children; at Kinuni School, 6,102 children share just four latrine toilets. At all three schools, the water supply is dependent on rainfall.

In fact, according to a 2016 report by the Tanzanian government’s Ministry of Education, only 38% of schools in Zanzibar have an adequate number of latrines, just 20% have a water supply, and less than 10% have functioning handwashing facilities.

Additionally, the Parent-Teacher Association at our partner schools estimates that just 30% of girls have any understanding of menstrual health, and this understanding only materialises after a girl has started menstruating. They also estimate that boys have little to no understanding at all.

So, what impact does all this have on a child’s education? Inadequate facilities, combined with a lack of understanding of good hygiene practices, has resulted in lower attendance amongst both boys and girls due to illness. Girls also suffer from low confidence due to a lack of knowledge around how to manage their menstrual health, leading to reduced attendance.

Relying on rainfall for water also means that pupils miss lessons because they’re collecting water, and can suffer from dehydration during the school day.

Inadequate facilities and a lack of hygiene knowledge negatively impact on attendance rates.

What will the programme involve?

Our WASH and MHM Programme will improve understanding of good hygiene amongst students through the delivery of hygiene education workshops at all three of our partner schools. 

We’ll also construct new latrines, install clean piped water, and build hand washing facilities at all three schools. This will enable the students to put their new knowledge of good hygiene into practice. 

Additionally, boys and girls aged 10-17 will have a better understanding of menstrual health, and girls will be better equipped to manage their menstruation. We’ll achieve this by working with the teachers at our partner schools to increase their sensitivity to menstrual health management, and by delivering educational workshops to pupils aged 10-17. Students will also be able to attend monthly after-school clubs, organised by our partner schools’ Health Committees.

Five local women at each school will also receive training on how to make reusable sanitary pads for students to use. To help with this, we’ll provide two sewing machines, start-up materials, and a sanitary pad template. 

Finally, we’ll construct a dedicated sanitation facility at each school, to give girls a private and hygienic space in which to manage their menstrual health. 

The programme will improve educational outcomes for both boys and girls in Zanzibar.

What will this programme achieve? 

Through this programme, more than 16,000 children will deepen their understanding of good hygiene, and will have access to sanitary facilities in which to put this new knowledge into action. With the support of parents and our partner schools, this understanding will filter down to younger siblings, leading to improved hygiene at home.

Improved hygiene will mean that attendance increases, as hygiene-related illnesses and absences from school will decrease. Boys and girls aged 10-17 will also have a better understanding of menstrual health, and girls will feel more confident about managing their menstruation at school, reducing the disparity in attendance levels between boys and girls.

Finally, as well as improving educational outcomes and providing equal opportunity for boys and girls to reach their potential, this programme has the capacity to positively change hygiene behaviour and attitudes to menstruation in the wider community.

Our WASH and MHM programme begins this summer at Fuoni School, and will run for three years. We’re so excited to get started, and will share more information and progress updates when we can!