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The Latest News from SaCoDe, September 2023

Baseline study to assess the knowledge and attitude of girls in school about hygiene, including menstrual hygiene in MAKAMBA

Menstrual hygiene is an essential issue for the health, well-being, and education of girls and women around the world. However, many people do not have access to the information and resources needed to manage their menstruation healthily and safely. With the support of AMADE, SaCoDé conducted a baseline study of 521 girls in 20 primary schools in the Makamba commune in Makamba province to assess the knowledge and attitudes of girls in schools about hygiene, including menstrual hygiene.

Questionnaires were completed by 521 girls in 5 focus groups, and 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with the head teachers of these schools. 47% of the girls surveyed use disposable sanitary pads during their periods, compared with 34% who use old clothes, which increases absenteeism and the risk of sexual infections, especially as disposable sanitary pads are expensive and old clothes are not suitable for good menstrual hygiene management.

24% of the girls surveyed said that they had received information about menstruation before their first period. Further on, the study revealed that the main source of information on menstrual health and hygiene was friends, with 59% saying this. Although the government of Burundi has set up a school club system to promote access to information on sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and young people, 94% of the girls surveyed said that there was no school club in their schools.

The lack of material resources and access to places where menstrual hygiene can be practiced is a significant obstacle to girls and women's daily activities. 44% of the girls surveyed did not have access to water in their schools. Of the remaining 56%, 39% said that the water was paid for by the pupils. 48% said that water was always available in their schools, compared with 52% who said that it was only open a few times. Only 22% of the 521 girls surveyed wash their hands with soap at school.

519 girls said that latrines existed in their schools, but 61% said that they were not sufficient. Also, 41% of the girls surveyed said that the latrines had not been clean the last time they had been used, compared with 59% who said that they had. In addition to the latrines, 91% of the girls surveyed did not have a menstrual hygiene management room in their school, which is an essential place for menstruating girls.

42% of the girls surveyed were absent from school when they were menstruating, an average of 2 days a month. The main reasons for absence were pain (137 girls), lack of adequate sanitary pads (22 girls), fear of staining their clothes (13 girls), and fear of giving off bad smells (12 girls). Some of these reasons led the other 58% to feel uncomfortable and unable to follow classes properly during their periods.

This study revealed the needs of young girls in Makamba for better menstrual health and hygiene management in schools. 37% of the girls surveyed asked for sanitary towels to be made available, 35% for GHM rooms to be set up in schools, 31% for access to water and soap to be increased, 10% for the number of latrines to be increased, 8% for school clubs to be set up, while 2.8% asked for painkillers to be made available, 2% for buckets and 1% for dustbins.

Help Us Empower Women, and Youth in School-based hygiene, menstrual health and hygiene, and sexual and reproductive health education for gender-sensitive adolescents and youth
  • Using the 3-Star Schools approach, this business line aims to improve the school environment for students and teachers. To move from a 0-star school to a 3-star school, this approach encourages schools to consider hygiene issues.

  • Training of school aunts and fathers: The Government of Burundi has implemented the system of school aunts and fathers. These educators must be strengthened to be able to advise, guide, and accompany pupils on topics such as hygiene, health, menstrual hygiene, and SRH.

  • Establishment of school clubs: Aunts and Fathers who participate in these trainings will be able to establish school clubs to educate and sensitize their students on issues related to hygiene, health, menstrual hygiene, and sexual reproductive health. Students will be encouraged to join these clubs to receive comprehensive training according to a lesson plan agreed upon during the training. SRH includes the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse as well as the fight against gender-based violence (GBV).

  • Education and awareness: School clubs are run by trained educators every week. Educators use the manuals used for their prior training to train members of the school club. The teachers work with the club members to find ways to share the key messages from the clubs with the rest of the school so that everyone benefits from the information.

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