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The Latest News from SaCoDe, September 2023

AGATEKA: Championing women and girls’ dignity

Sexual and Reproductive Health is one of the SaCoDe priorities, particularly the health and menstrual hygiene of girls and women living in Burundi. Then during this quarter, 15683 girls and women gathered in Village Savings and Loans Associations have were educated on health and menstrual hygiene, among them 3519 were provided each with a package of washable and reusable sanitary pads AGATEKA. 4932 packages have been purchased by national and international organizations working in Burundi such as UNICEF, JRS, Save the Children, Innoviate Group, ADED, UCODE Ngozi, Association Urumuri, Rotary Ingoma et Fida Internationale Burundi.

Thanks to the support of AMADE, SaCoDe has launched a ninth production center of washable and reusable sanitary pads in Makamba province after those of Cibitoke, Karusi, Kirundo, Gitega, Ngozi, Muyinga, and Ruyigi provinces. During that period, 9457 packages of washable and reusable sanitary pads have been produced and 350 bags have been given to girls who will start their school year of 2023-2024 in September to contribute to their wellbeing.

On the sidelines of the celebration of International Health and Menstrual Hygiene Day, SaCoDe launched Oky in Kirundi, a mobile app, that offers reliable and secure information on Sexual and Reproductive Health and especially menstrual health and hygiene to girls and women in the Burundian context.

On the other hand, Mrs. Grâce Françoise NIBIZI, founder and executive director of SaCoDé took part as a panelist, alongside Dr. Juma MBEREYEHOKURERA from PSI Burundi and Mrs. NDABAGIRIYE Jacqueline from the National Reproductive Health Program/PNSR-BURUNDI, in an advocacy fair against menstrual insecurity in schools organized by Yaga in collaboration with Share-Net Burundi. Mrs Grâce-Françoise NIBIZI said that access to washable and reusable sanitary pads was already a step forward. However, there is still a long way to go, because, in the field of menstrual health and hygiene, there are still needs to be met, particularly in terms of access to drinking water and separate latrines in schools. The taboos associated with menstruation also act as a brake on menstrual health and hygiene.

Another activity was SaCoDé's participation in a media synergy organized by the Population Media Center on Burundi's national radio station RTNB. Discussions focused on reproductive health policy in Burundi: current situation, opportunities, challenges, and prospects. On the set were guests Dr Arthur BISORE representing SaCoDé, Dr Audrine KANEZA representing ABUBEF, Inès KIDASHARIRA Coordinator of SRH solutions at ShareNet-EKN, Dr Clémentine IRAKOZE Technical Director at the National Reproductive Health Program.

The program lasted two hours - from 3 pm to 5 pm - and was broadcast in synergy by 10 radio stations, including Radio Nationale du Burundi, Radio Nderagakura, Radio Isanganiro, Radio Rema FM, Radio CDN, and others.

Champions of Dignity

Help us Empower Women, and Youth in Health promotion and menstrual hygiene
  • Establishment of "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pad production centers in 5 new provinces of Burundi: To increase access to "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads across the country, SaCoDé is establishing production centers close to the communities. Moreover, these locations serve as retail outlets for "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads. As of today, SaCoDé has opened eight production centers in Bujumbura, Gitega, Karusi, Cibitoke, Kirundo, Ngozi, Muyinga, and Ruyigi.

  • Recruitment and training of vulnerable women and girls on the method of making washable and reusable sanitary pads: The "AGATEKA" project, which makes washable and reusable sanitary pads, aims to improve living conditions for girls and women. Through this project, SaCoDé teaches sewing skills to girls and women living in precarious circumstances. Women with disabilities and those from the Batwa communities are among those served by SaCoDé. The women are hired into SaCoDé's production centers after completing the training.

  • Improving access to washable and reusable "AGATEKA" sanitary pads, with or without underwear, through community sales: SaCoDé uses the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) model to sell washable and reusable sanitary pads in the community. Using this approach, women are encouraged to save to meet certain needs they are unable to meet on their own. Menstrual pads and sanitary pads are among the items women need during their menstrual period and after childbirth. With this approach, SaCoDé engages its beneficiaries, especially girls and women, in this collective process.

  • Education and sensitization on menstrual hygiene and health for a behavior change: In most societies, especially in Burundi, menstruation is stigmatized, and surrounded by silence, myths, and taboos. Menstruation management is therefore challenging for many women and girls. There is a possibility that they lack the means to obtain what they need in this period, or that they face discriminatory cultural norms or practices that make maintaining good hygiene difficult. There are also consequences, such as a lack of access to basic human rights like education, employment, and health care. As part of this project, SaCoDé organizes awareness sessions in communities to break the silence surrounding menstrual hygiene management and to improve their health. Several channels are used for sensitization, including radio, mass sensitization, community leaders, and video projection.

  • Fundraising and free distribution of "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads to school girls: To promote menstrual hygiene in schools, SaCoDé is raising funds to produce "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads. Funding comes from multiple donors, while the purchase of a package of "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads finances the production of pads for the most vulnerable.SaCoDé produces "AGATEKA" washable and reusable sanitary pads, which are then given to schoolgirls and other disadvantaged women for free. In the "AGATEKA" program, schoolgirls are also taught menstrual hygiene management.

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