Huru will support the menstrual hygiene management (MHM), education, and empowerment of 500 Ogiek girls including some with disabilities in Nakuru County, Kenya, by distributing Huru Kits. Huru Kits are drawstring backpacks containing: eight re-usable sanitary pads (RSPs); three pairs of underwear; soap; a waterproof storage bag; instructions on RSP use and maintenance; and educational materials focused on MHM, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention (these also contain details about a toll-free youth hotline individuals may call for MHM or crisis assistance). Huru will coordinate with the Ministry of Education and local schools, organizations, and healthcare workers to sensitize key constituents about MHM and related issues, including child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender-based violence. Involving these groups in project planning and implementation will help foster a gender-equitable environment that supports girls menstrual health and school attendance.
A site-based project coordinator will work with local collaborators to identify and train ten Ogiek youth and community facilitators. Weekly over three months, these facilitators will deliver two-hour seminars on MHM, sexual and reproductive health, and life skills to teach girls about positive behaviors. Working with local District Education Officers, the facilitators will integrate these seminars into schools planned extracurricular activities to help ensure girls attendance. Each participating girl will receive a Huru Kit at a ceremony attended by government officials, local leaders, and community members that is designed to reinforce the importance of MHM and sexual and reproductive health in the broader community. To further develop a supportive environment for Ogiek girls, events will be organized for at least 300 boys and other community members about MHM and related issues. The primary challenge associated with this project is that demand for Huru Kits often outstrips supply. Thus, Huru will work closely with local partners to ensure direct beneficiaries have reached puberty.
Since 2008, Huru has produced more than 1,000,000 re-usable sanitary pads, which have been distributed to over 110,000 girls throughout East Africa and other resource-constrained settings. Having established a model for successful distribution, especially in urban slums, Huru seeks to build on this initial success and extend its programmatic footprint to more remote, inaccessible regions. The Ogiek people are an indigenous, forest-dwelling tribe, who live mostly in Nakuru County, Kenya. Displacement from tribal ancestral lands has resulted in poverty, high rates of illiteracy, and poor health outcomes within the Ogiek community particularly for women and girls. Through this commitment, Huru will develop, test, and refine its methodology for program implementation in one of the more underserved parts of Kenya.
January 1 to March 31, 2016 (Quarter 1): Huru holds meetings with approximately ten local partners (e.g., Ministry of Education, school administrators and teachers, local organizations, and healthcare workers) and solidifies its relationship with Twapepea Development Foundation to provide a strong, collaborative network from which to launch project implementation and ensure appropriate community sensitization toward the projects MHM focus.
During March, Nakuru County partners are mobilized to identify at least ten local girls, boys, and adults who can be trained to serve as youth and community facilitators. These individuals are prepared to deliver a girl empowerment curriculum and educated on issues surrounding MHM, sexual and reproductive health, and related life skills. First quarterly update submitted to CGI and core project partners.
April 1 to June 30, 2016 (Quarter 2): In April, Huru staff work with youth and community facilitators and partners to finalize the logistics surrounding project implementation and engage girl participants. Once the target audience engagement activity is complete, baseline assessment is conducted.
During the local school term, which runs from May (Quarter 2) to July (Quarter 3), facilitators deliver weekly seminars on MHM, sexual and reproductive health, and life skills. Second quarterly update submitted to core project partners.
July 1 to September 30 (Quarter 3): Weekly seminars continue during the school term. An educational event for boys (n=300) and family and community members is organized. Huru Kits (n=500) are assembled, transported to Nakuru County, and distributed during a community event. Third quarterly update submitted to core project partners.
October 1 to December 31, 2016 (Quarter 4): Summative assessment is conducted, evaluation data are analyzed, and a final report prepared to summarize project findings and impacts is submitted to CGI and core project partners.
Limited menstrual hygiene management (MHM) information and resources results in significant educational consequences for African girls, including poor performance, grade repetition, and early school withdrawal. Coupled with the range of social taboos surrounding menstruation that persist on the continent, this dramatically increases African girls vulnerability for a number of risks, including: premature sexual debut; early or unplanned pregnancy; child marriage; and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
In Kenya, more than 1 million school-aged youth do not attend school, and a majority of these are girls who drop out following the onset of puberty. The number of Kenyan girls not attending school due to a lack of MHM information and resources is especially concentrated in the countrys remote, rural areas. This stems, in part, from the underdeveloped transportation network and limited financial resource availability in these areas, which hampers the sale and purchase of the most basic commodities. It is further exacerbated by cultural norms that prioritize a girls marriage over her education and condone female genital mutilation.
The Kenya National Sanitary Towels Programme estimates that 300,000 girls need and would benefit from MHM resources. The government has made efforts to supply girls in Kenyas remote areas with disposable sanitary pads; however, the supply is inconsistent and only available during school terms. This leaves girls with no way to manage their periods during holiday breaks (it also leaves the needs of out-of-school girls largely unmet).
Because educational persistence is a key protective factor for African girls, new partnership models that provide the most vulnerable Kenyan girls with MHM information and resources are sorely needed to enable girls to attend to their menstrual health and stay in school. This will enhance these girls overall well-being in the near-term and increase their long-term maternal and child health and chances for economic self-sufficiency.