German Development Cooperation has been a consistent development partner to Nepal and Nepal CRS Company, providing financial support to expand the product range in Family Planning and Maternal Child health, Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and most recently menstrual hygiene management product – the biodegradable sanitary napkin "Freedom". Our journey with KfW began 24 years ago and this cooperation has continued till date with fruitful results.
German Development Cooperation through KfW has continued its' support to the Government of Nepal and Nepal CRS Company in critical areas of Maternal and Child Health. Under the Improvement of Maternal and Child Care in Remote Areas (IMCCR), German Development Cooperation has provided grant funds to Nepal CRS Company to assist the Government of Nepal’s effort toward dignified menstruation health and adolescent sexual reproductive health. Under the current grant, Nepal CRS Company has undertaken the social marketing of biodegradable sanitary napkins in 4 districts of Nepal; Dadeldhura, Doti, Baitadi and Bajhang with specific focus on school girls of public schools. The project seeks to increase the availability of biodegradable napkins at affordable prices and also to raise awareness, reduce social stigma, taboos and norms associated with menstruation.
Under Improvement of Maternal and Child Care in Remote Area (IMCCR) project and through social marketing of sanitary napkins, CRS has increased the availability, accessibility and affordability, safety and acceptability of the 100% biodegradable sanitary napkin among 4 districts in the far-west region (Province 7): Bajhang, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, and Doti and has implemented the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program in these four districts.
The Program districts
This project aimed to bring positive changes in the school girls’ and women’s knowledge, attitude and practices relating to menstrual health and hygiene management in the project districts. It also aimed to improve the supply side by providing the sanitary napkins at no/low cost in the program areas.
The project objectives are listed below:
To improve the awareness of school girls and women of the selected districts on MHM
To improve knowledge and awareness on the use of sanitary napkins.
To change the behavior among girls and women to adopt safer and healthier practices during menstruation.
To increase the availability and accessibility of Biodegradable Sanitary napkins in project areas through social marketing and also through free distribution/or subsidized rates through selected Health Facilities of the program districts (esp. for postpartum mothers).
The major components of the project are depicted in the figure below:
PROGRESS MADE SO FAR
One of the major components of MHM Project is the social marketing of the 100% Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin “Freedom”. Nepal CRS Company procured 650,000 units of Freedom in October 2021. Freedom was launched on October 28, 2021 at Ugratara Secondary School in Amargadhi-7, Dadeldhura in the presence of many local and non-local guests, representing different government and non-government organizations. Mr. Simon Heinkele, Deputy Head of German Development Cooperation was the Chief Guest of the event.
For the implementation of the project, Nepal CRS coordinated with the Government of Nepal both on a central and local level with the Family Welfare Division (FWD), National Health Education Information Communication Center (NHEICC) and the local municipalities to carry out various programs in the project districts.
In coordination with the NHEICC, different types of IEC/BCC materials for conducting the orientation to teachers and students have been prepared. Below listed are the various type of materials that has been prepared:
1. MHM Flip Chart
2. Four different informational flexes for display
3. Product brochure
4. Game set (Snake and Ladder)
For the implementation of the project, Multipurpose Development Society (MPDS) Dadeldhura, a non- governmental and a non- profit organization was selected. CRS entered an agreement with the MPDS on August 2, 2021.
The selected partner organization is required to conduct the following activities:
Necessary coordination and approval from local, provincial and Government stakeholders and other agencies at the local level.
Supporting in the development of MHM booklets and MHM Games for Teacher and school orientations
Orientation to school teachers and students on MHM.
Facilitate and assist in airing the talk shows and messages regarding MHM / Interviews with the experts/FGDs on different aspects of MHM.
In order to fulfill the requirement, MPDS has hired 16 field staff (four in each district) for orientation, monitoring and evaluation of the program activities at field level along with the other project management staff in their offices. As an orientation for the partner
A (KAP) survey was carried out among the adolescent girl students (class 6-12, age 10-18 years) and women aged 19-49 years in the project districts to evaluate the existing knowledge, attitude and practice towards MHM. The findings and the conclusion drawn from the survey has been well incorporated in the project design and also has been in line with the implementation of the project as well. The gaps, that the baseline survey had revealed has now been acknowledged and the fulfillment of the gaps has been attempted.
The teacher’s orientation is targeted towards Health and Science teachers, by providing orientation regarding MHM. This orientation plans to cover a total of 1244 teachers from 633 schools in the project districts. The main objective of the training is to sensitize the teachers in various issues associated with MHM. The teacher shall be equipped with the necessary skills and tools to help them understand menstruation and good MHM practices, so that they further educate and support the students in the school accordingly.
The teacher’s orientation program has been conducted in 633 schools with a total of 1244 teachers trained. CRS has been coordinating with the local government authorities from the beginning, CRS has also actively engaged representatives from the local health and educational organizations to participate and contribute in the orientation sessions.
Teachers were oriented using different forms of IEC/BCC materials and the games developed to facilitate the learning on MHM.
Even though the orientation was targeted towards Health and Science teachers, there were participation from other subject teachers and MHM focal person from some of the schools. A total of 1244 teachers have been oriented through the MHM Program.
MASS COMMUNICATION ACTIVITIES
Mass communication is a very crucial component of the MHM Project. Various ATL/BTL activities have been planned and are being carried out by Nepal CRS in collaboration with MPDS. 4 radio PSAs and 1 radio jingle have been prepared and are being aired all over the project districts. The 4 PSAs are prepared to inform the audience about various aspects of MHM like nutrition, raise awareness regarding menstruation, menstrual hygiene and management while the radio jingle is prepared to promote “Freedom” in the project districts.
School Orientation is a primary objective of the MHM project. The KAP survey conducted and the observations made by the field staff notified that the current school curriculum on MHM is mostly theoretical, neither engaging the students nor the teachers. Therefore, the school orientation programs are planned to be conducted in all the 633 schools to all the students of class 6-10 to create awareness and educate them about the importance of MHM.
During the orientation program, students will also be informed about the availability of the newly launched CRS’s sanitary napkin “Freedom” at a reasonable price near them and also creating awareness in the school children about MHM and the issues relating to it. Furthermore, encouraging and motivating the girl children to adopt safer and healthier MHM practices through various games and quizzes and also helping them to understand the need of MHM.
The school orientation is currently being carried out in all 4 focused districts. So far, the school orientations have smoothly taken place in 460 schools throughout the 4 districts. A total of 68,234 students have been oriented out of which 30,653 are male and the remaining 37581 are female which depicts a majority of participation from the girls.
The students being oriented through the school orientation are aged 9-19 year old which is the right time to be aware and informed about Menstruation and better ways to manage it.
The school orientation is being carried out side-by-side along with the mass communication activities.