An independent survey carried out in more than 25 primary schools in Kagadi District has revealed that schoolgirls are using banana fibres as sanitary pads during their menstrual cycle, something that has greatly contributed to school dropout rates and absenteeism.
This was contained in a report released last week by Hygiene Water and Sanitation Caritas Fort Portal (HEWASA).
According to the report, there is a big challenge among schoolgirls during their monthly menses since they cannot afford sanitary pads.
The survey was conducted in October in schools including Nyamiti, St Martha Kenga, Ihuura, Kateete, Bugambaihe, Kabworo, Katikengyeyo, Kihumuro, St Andrea Burora, and Kitengeto, among others.
Cost of sanitary pads
Sanitary pads cost between Shs2,500 and Shs8,000 in Kampala and most urban centres depending on the brand.
Ms Pamela Kabasinguzi, the team leader HEWASA, said girls in schools are forced by conditions to use old mattress pieces, blankets, banana fibres and old clothes during menstruation.
She said: "Lack of sanitary pads has increased cases of absenteeism of girls in primary schools of Kagadi District putting the education standards at risk. Some schools even lack female teachers which creates difficulties for girls to seek guidance."
The Kagadi chief administrative officer (CAO), Mr Malik Mahabba, called for special investigations to find out why menstruation is causing absenteeism and yet in the past, people used to improvise and things would move on.
The Kagadi district chairman, Mr Stephen Byaruhanga Nfashingabo, expressed concern about the schools that are missing female teachers, describing it as terrible and asked the CAO and education department to handle the problem immediately.
While campaigning in Lango Sub-region in 2015, President Museveni pledged that his government would provide girls in primary schools with sanitary pads.
SUPPORT TO GIRLS
HEWASA Caritas Fort Portal in partnership with UNICEF is currently implementing menstrual hygiene management in 25 government aided primary schools in Kagadi District for one year with an intention of obtaining general information on the schools including location, school enrolment and the number of physical teachers.