Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

Tanzania’s SWASH Guidelines play a crucial role in addressing the pressing challenge of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools across the country. These guidelines, introduced by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in 2016, provide a comprehensive framework for improving WASH facilities in primary and secondary schools.

In this article, we explore the key elements of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines and their significance in overcoming barriers to educational success. We delve into the importance of conducting assessments to identify areas for improvement, the role of hygiene education in promoting healthy behaviors, and the need for community involvement in sustaining WASH initiatives. By adhering to these guidelines and implementing sustainable WASH practices, we can create safe and conducive learning environments that contribute to the overall well-being and academic achievements of Tanzanian students. Join us as we delve into the transformative impact of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines in promoting a healthier and more successful educational system.

Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

The Importance of Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

In order to understand the significance of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, it is essential to recognize the impact of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities on student health and educational outcomes. Here are key points highlighting the importance of these guidelines:

  • Health and Well-being: Insufficient access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene facilities can contribute to the spread of diseases and negatively impact the overall health and well-being of students. The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines aim to address these issues by providing a framework for the provision of safe and hygienic environments in schools.
  • Academic Performance: Poor WASH facilities in schools can have a detrimental effect on academic performance. Lack of access to clean water, functional toilets, and proper handwashing facilities can lead to increased absenteeism, reduced concentration, and lower cognitive abilities. By implementing the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, schools can create an environment that promotes better learning outcomes.
  • Gender Equality: Inadequate menstrual hygiene management facilities can disproportionately affect girls’ education. The guidelines emphasize the importance of separate and appropriate facilities for girls, ensuring they have equal opportunities to attend school and succeed academically.
  • Disease Prevention: Proper sanitation and hygiene practices are crucial for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, such as diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines provide guidelines for waste management, handwashing facilities, and cleanliness maintenance, promoting a healthier school environment and reducing the risk of disease transmission.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6, which aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. By adhering to these guidelines, Tanzania is making significant progress towards achieving SDG targets and improving the overall quality of education and life for its students.

By recognizing and implementing the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, schools in Tanzania can make significant strides in improving student health, enhancing educational outcomes, promoting gender equality, and contributing to sustainable development goals. These guidelines provide a comprehensive framework for creating a safe, healthy, and conducive learning environment for all students.

The Problem

School is meant to help children and youths succeed and thrive. However, many Tanzanian students are fighting to stay healthy because it is difficult for their schools to provide acceptable levels of water, sanitation, and hygiene. In 2010, UNICEF, SNV, and WaterAid conducted a SWASH (School Water Sanitation and Hygiene) mapping survey in 2,697 schools located in 16 districts in Tanzania. As the statistics below indicate, the survey showed that the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in pre-, primary and secondary schools was lamentable. The situation especially results in reduced cognitive function and learning and a high number of absences due to WASH-related diseases and poor menstrual hygiene management. Issues, such as poor sanitation, a lack of doors on latrines, and a lack of access to menstrual products, lead to girls being denied an equal opportunity to succeed academically compared to their male peers.

Guidelines for Successful School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (SWASH)

To address these barriers to educational success, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology created a National Guideline for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Tanzania Schools in 2016 to implement improvements that would lead to efficient and adequate provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene in primary and secondary schools. Ensuring that students and teachers are educated about WASH and provided with proper WASH facilities that meet the defined guidelines leads to increased learning, attendance, and overall success of students.

Intervention and Assessment

A crucial first step towards changing SWASH is planning the appropriate interventions after conducting an assessment of the improvements needed at a school to provide adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities and thus guarantee a safe environment for learning. Assessments and intervention steps enable administrators, government partners, and other stakeholders to see a detailed outline of what the successful development of the facilities could look like. The development of such a SWASH plan involves analyzing the current challenges and creating a timeline for targeting the areas that specifically need improvement.

Education around Hygiene and Sanitation 

Constructive and sustainable interventions need to include a strong commitment to effective hygiene education to promote healthy behaviors and proper use of WASH facilities. This helps ensure that facilities are used correctly to maintain cleanliness and promote longevity. Just having a WASH facility has little impact on health outcomes unless the students, faculty, and surrounding community are educated about proper hygiene and sanitation. For younger children, it is helpful to educate them with games and stories, while keeping the information simple for them to understand. Older children will be able to have more complex and in-depth discussions about the importance of good hygiene practices. It is also important that teachers and community members help demonstrate the correct way to use facilities and encourage regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure the longevity and safety of facilities. If WASH facilities are not used properly, they can become a breeding ground for disease and pose severe safety hazards.

One way Maji Safi Group ensures sustainability in our SWASH programs is through organizing teachers and students to launch a School Health Club to lead their school towards healthier environments and habits. Members of the club maintain and clean the WASH equipment, replenish WASH supplies, and continue to teach future students about important health education. Through such peer-to-peer teaching, students become empowered as young leaders in their schools and community.

Hygiene Practices at Home are Equally Important as at School

Encouraging proper sanitary and hygienic behaviors for students at school is a big step for improving student health, but an enabling environment for practicing healthy habits at home must be established as well. This helps ensure that the positive effects on student health are protected in both their school and home life. Effective SWASH projects make sure that the schools, teachers, and students engage with the community to ensure that a ripple of change makes it into the homes. It has been found that parents are likely to embrace proper WASH practices that children bring home from school, and thus adopt them in their homes.

Community Involvement

An important aspect of holistic WASH intervention is getting the community involved in positive changes. This encourages the long-term use and support of SWASH facilities and also maximizes the overall health benefits realized by the community. It is always easier to make lifestyle changes when those surrounding you are also making those changes; therefore, community involvement catalyzes the interventions being made at schools. Getting the community actively involved can be accomplished in many ways, including meetings and events that give students the voice to lead their community in a healthier direction.

Requirements for a proper SWASH facilities include:

  • Adequate water supply from a protected water source that provides safe drinking water and water for personal and environmental cleaning.
  • Latrines and urinals that have washable floors and pits (or septic tanks) that ensure safely stored waste. Schools must have separate latrine blocks for boys and girls to ensure privacy and the necessities for girls to continue to attend schools during menstruation.
  • One hand-washing facility for every 100 pupils with clean water and soap in an accessible location for all (including at latrines).
  • Proper disposal of waste on a daily basis in a safe trash pit or incinerator and proper drainage for wastewater.
  • Proper maintenance of facilities and a high level of cleanliness at the school and in the surrounding areas. There should be a regular checklist that ensures that facilities are maintained, restocked, and repaired as needed.

Our mission

Maji Safi Group will continue to develop programs that provide WASH education and instill proper WASH practices in schools and communities. By preventing common and preventable diseases, we can help transform rural Tanzania. We walk alongside communities as they make behavioral changes and obtain WASH infrastructure, and we provide factual health education that catalyzes healthy habits among our participants.

MSG has always put extra focus on engaging with youths, so that they can bring change for generations to come. Through our School Health Clubs, we are committed to improving SWASH conditions and breaking the silence surrounding menstruation, so girls are not denied the necessities they need to safely stay in school during their cycle.

If we commit to assessing, educating, and implementing sustainable SWASH programs, we can positively impact the future of Tanzanians!

Public Health Practicum Experience In Tanzania

The Maji Safi Group (MSG) is a non-profit organization that promotes public health and prevents waterborne diseases through WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) education in Tanzania. Since its inception in 2013, MSG has championed a participatory development model that places local community members at the forefront of driving transformative changes in public health.

This article explores the invaluable Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania offered by MSG. This immersive program allows students and professionals in the field of public health to engage with communities and gain hands-on experience in tackling critical health challenges. Participants work closely with local community members, learning about their unique needs and co-designing sustainable interventions.

From conducting health assessments and implementing WASH education initiatives to monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes, this practicum experience equips individuals with practical skills and an in-depth understanding of the complex dynamics of public health in Tanzania. By placing communities at the heart of their approach, MSG and its Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania are fostering sustainable change and empowering communities to lead healthier lives.

Public Health Practicum Experience In Tanzania

The Participatory Development Model of MSG

Explanation of MSG’s participatory development approach

At the heart of Maji Safi Group’s (MSG) work in Tanzania lies a powerful approach known as participatory development. This model recognizes the inherent knowledge, resources, and strengths within local communities and empowers them to drive changes in public health. MSG firmly believes that sustainable solutions can only be achieved when community members are actively involved in the decision-making process.

Involvement of local community members in driving changes in public health

Unlike traditional top-down approaches, MSG prioritizes the inclusion and participation of local community members. Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration, MSG fosters a sense of ownership among the communities it serves. This involvement empowers individuals to take charge of their own health and well-being, leading to long-lasting changes that extend far beyond the duration of MSG’s programs.

Importance of community empowerment in sustainable health interventions

By placing communities at the center of its work, MSG recognizes the transformative power of community empowerment. It acknowledges that individuals living within a community possess deep insights into the challenges they face and the most effective strategies to overcome them. Through the participatory development model, MSG empowers communities to identify their own needs, co-design interventions, and take ownership of their implementation.

Through this approach, MSG ensures that its efforts align with the cultural norms, values, and aspirations of the communities it serves. By actively involving community members in decision-making processes, MSG ensures that interventions are not only effective but also sustainable, as they are designed and implemented with a deep understanding of the local context.

In summary, MSG’s participatory development model fosters collaboration, empowerment, and sustainability. By harnessing the knowledge and agency of local community members, MSG paves the way for transformative changes in public health in Tanzania.

The Participatory Development Model of MSG

Overview of the Public Health Practicum Experience

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania is a unique opportunity for students and professionals in the field of public health to gain practical skills and firsthand experience in tackling critical health challenges. This section provides an overview of the program, including its purpose, target audience, and structure.

Description of the program and its purpose

The Public Health Practicum Experience is designed to immerse participants in the realities of public health in Tanzania. It offers a comprehensive and hands-on learning experience that goes beyond theoretical knowledge. Participants have the chance to work directly with MSG and local communities, contributing to impactful interventions and gaining a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in public health.

Target audience: students and professionals in the field of public health

The program is open to both students pursuing degrees in public health and professionals seeking to enhance their practical skills and broaden their global health perspectives. It provides an ideal opportunity for individuals who are passionate about public health and eager to make a tangible difference in underserved communities.

Duration and structure of the practicum experience

  1. Duration: The Public Health Practicum Experience typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months, allowing participants to engage in meaningful and impactful work while accommodating different schedules and commitments.
  2. Structured learning: Participants are exposed to a structured learning environment that combines classroom instruction, fieldwork, and mentorship from experienced public health professionals. This multifaceted approach ensures a well-rounded and immersive experience.
  3. Fieldwork and community engagement: The program emphasizes hands-on fieldwork, giving participants the opportunity to collaborate with local communities, conduct health assessments, implement WASH education initiatives, and monitor progress.
  4. Reflective practice and evaluation: Participants engage in reflective practice, critically analyzing their experiences and evaluating the outcomes of their interventions. This process encourages continuous learning and improvement.

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by MSG provides a transformative experience for participants, equipping them with valuable skills, a deeper understanding of public health challenges, and the ability to contribute to sustainable change in Tanzania.

Impact and Benefits

Practical skills gained through hands-on experience

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania provides participants with invaluable practical skills. By engaging in hands-on fieldwork, participants develop competencies in areas such as community engagement, needs assessment, program implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and intercultural communication. These skills equip participants with real-world experience and enhance their ability to address public health challenges effectively.

In-depth understanding of public health challenges in Tanzania

The practicum experience offers participants a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the complex public health challenges faced by communities in Tanzania. By working closely with local community members, participants witness firsthand the impact of waterborne diseases and other health disparities. This immersive experience fosters a deeper appreciation for the social, cultural, and environmental factors that influence public health outcomes in the region.

Empowering communities to lead healthier lives

One of the most significant benefits of the Public Health Practicum Experience is the empowerment of communities. By adopting a participatory development model, MSG and its participants actively involve community members in designing and implementing interventions. This collaborative approach builds trust, fosters community ownership, and empowers individuals to take charge of their own health. The experience instills a sense of agency and resilience among community members, enabling them to continue driving positive change long after the practicum concludes.

Through their contributions, participants in the Public Health Practicum Experience become catalysts for sustainable improvements in public health. Their efforts not only directly benefit the communities they work with but also have a ripple effect, inspiring others to embrace healthier behaviors and leading to systemic changes in public health practices.

In summary, the Public Health Practicum Experience offered by MSG in Tanzania yields multiple impacts and benefits. Participants acquire practical skills, develop a comprehensive understanding of public health challenges, and contribute to empowering communities for long-term health improvements. This transformative experience shapes participants into advocates for equity and drives positive change in public health both locally and globally.

Impact and Benefits

Conclusion

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania is a transformative journey that combines hands-on learning, community engagement, and the empowerment of individuals and communities. This section provides a concluding reflection on the importance and impact of the program, reaffirming MSG’s commitment to community empowerment and encouraging future participants to engage in this meaningful experience.

Recap of the importance of the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania

The Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania, facilitated by MSG, stands as a powerful platform for individuals passionate about public health to make a tangible difference. Through this program, participants engage with local communities, co-design interventions, and contribute to the prevention of waterborne diseases and the improvement of public health outcomes. The participatory development model adopted by MSG ensures that interventions are sustainable, community-driven, and culturally relevant, resulting in long-lasting impact.

Affirmation of MSG’s commitment to community empowerment

MSG’s commitment to community empowerment is at the core of its work. By involving local community members in all aspects of public health interventions, MSG acknowledges their expertise, values, and aspirations. This participatory approach not only amplifies the voices of the community but also ensures that interventions are contextually appropriate and sustainable. MSG remains steadfast in its dedication to empowering communities to lead healthier lives and fostering enduring changes in public health.

Encouragement for future participants to engage in the program

To all individuals passionate about public health and seeking to make a meaningful impact, the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania offered by MSG beckons as an incredible opportunity. By participating in this program, individuals gain practical skills, broaden their understanding of global health challenges, and contribute to sustainable change at the grassroots level. The experience shapes participants into advocates for equity, resilience, and community-driven interventions. By joining forces with MSG, participants can be part of a collective effort to improve public health outcomes and empower communities in Tanzania and beyond.

In conclusion, the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania provided by MSG embodies the power of community engagement, participatory development, and hands-on learning. By embracing this experience, individuals have the potential to become change agents who positively impact public health and inspire others to join the journey towards healthier and more empowered communities.

Menstrual Hygiene Products in Tanzania

Menstrual hygiene is a critical aspect of women’s health and well-being. Yet, it is often overlooked or stigmatized in many parts of the world. In Tanzania, menstrual hygiene remains a taboo subject often met with silence and shame. In addition, the lack of access to affordable and reliable menstrual hygiene products is a significant barrier to women’s education, employment, and social mobility.

Maji Safi, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Tanzania, is working to change this narrative by providing access to menstrual hygiene products and education to girls and women in rural communities. This article explores the challenges women face in Tanzania with regard to menstrual hygiene and the impact of Maji Safi’s interventions on these women’s lives. It highlights the need for more investment in menstrual hygiene education and infrastructure in Tanzania and other low-income countries to ensure that all women have access to the essential resources to manage their periods with dignity and without shame.

Menstrual Hygiene Products

In many places, menstruation is a taboo subject. It is shrouded in silence and stigma, so people are not properly educated about menstrual hygiene health (MHH), reproductive rights, and respect for the other sex. In addition, a lack of access to feminine hygiene products keeps women and girls away from work and school, and the use of makeshift materials, such as old rags, hay, and mattress fillings, leads to serious health issues.

Maji Safi Group has built an innovative and much respected Male and Female Hygiene Program in the Mara Region of Tanzania. Through interactive school classes, community events, and radio shows, we have helped break the silence and educated thousands of people about menstruation and reproductive rights and given the girls in our school programs free access to different kinds of feminine hygiene products: disposable pads, reusable pads, tampons, and menstrual cups.

Fortunately, menstrual hygiene products are becoming increasingly accessible and affordable to females in Tanzania.

Below is a list of companies that are targeting this need, including a brief description of their products.

Anuflo Industries – Introduced affordable, safe, and eco-friendly menstrual cups to rural Tanzania and created an app and a website in Swahili to educate their users and provide a convenient way for girls and women to track their menstrual cycle.

 

AFRIpads – Started as a 3-person social enterprise and now delivers reusable menstrual pads to 37 countries. They are committed to providing cost-effective and eco-friendly MHH solutions that support local manufacturing and rural development. Their standard kit includes 2 Super Maxi pads, 3 Maxi pads, and a carrying pouch.

 

ReliefPad – Makes eco-friendly, reusable pads with a focus on chemical- and fragrance-free products with anti-microbial properties that kill off germs to protect from infections. They empower 10 million girls across the globe by breaking taboos, providing MHH education, and offering pads.



Luna Cups – Makes eco-friendly menstrual cups from soft, durable, and hypoallergenic medical grade silicone that eliminates the risk of toxic shock syndrome. The cups can be left in place for up to 12 hours, where after they should be emptied, rinsed with water, and reinserted. After each period, they must be sterilized and then stored.



Always – Is an American product manufactured in Canada and sold globally. Their menstrual hygiene products include disposable maxi pads, ultra-thin pads, panty liners, disposable underwear for nighttime wear, and vaginal wipes. They have run several campaigns, such as ‘Always Keeping Girls in School’ and ‘End Period Poverty’ where a pad was donated for each package sold.

 

Be Girl – Is a social enterprise committed to meeting the menstrual hygiene needs of 250 million girls with high-performance products, addressing gender equality, and giving girls choice, confidence, and courage. Be Girl also provides age-appropriate menstrual education for girls and boys. They are well-known for their period panties.

 

WomenChoice Industries– Is a social enterprise that manufactures and distributes low-cost reusable breast pads, diapers, and menstrual pads called ‘Salama Pads’. Their mission is to ensure that every woman and girl in Africa stops using unhygienic materials to manage her menstruation. Salama pads can withstand 100 washes and are manufactured in Tanzania.


Fahari Pads – Fahari reusable sanitary pads are fabricated in Dar es Salaam. They are eco-friendly, ultra-absorbent, natural, long-lasting, and made of high-performance textiles designed to keep the user safe, dry, and comfortable during menstruation. Each kit contains 4 reusable sanitary pads (1 maxi and 3 regular size pads) and costs approximately $5.

 

Elea Ambassadors – Produces affordable, eco-friendly sanitary pads made from high-performance textiles. The reusable pads provide protection for 12+ menstrual cycles. Elea Pads are distributed and sold by a woman-to-woman, micro-entrepreneurial sales force, whose members receive start-up kits, training, and marketing support. Elea Pads has a network that reaches more than 50,000 girls and women in rural areas.


Lunette Cups – This Finnish company’s mission is to change the attitude towards menstruation and provide education and period care solutions, so daily lives are not interrupted by lack of MHH. The design of reusable Lunette cups is rooted in safety, ease, and comfort and accommodates bodies of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Lunette cups are ecological, convenient, and economical.

PrincessD Menstrual Cups – Made from medical-grade silicone, this South African menstrual cup brand is reusable for 10 years and offers leak-free protection for up to 12 hours. One menstrual cup is equivalent to approximately 3,000-5,000 sanitary pads/tampons over a 10-year cycle and therefore ideal for girls in impoverished areas and environments with without proper waste management.

O.B Tampons – The idea for a tampon that could be inserted without a separate applicator was initiated in Germany in 1947 as the cardboard used for the applicator in the American product Tampax was unavailable in post-war Germany. The young gynecologist Judith Esser designed it, and by 2010, O.B. tampons were exported to over 30 countries. Although not reusable, tampons are preferable to disposable pads, as they are more affordable and create less waste.

U By Kotex® – U By Kotex® believes that nothing should get in the way of a woman’s life, especially not her period, nor the negative perceptions around menstruation. Kotex produces disposable tampons, pads, and liners. The company is a founding sponsor and supports the mission of the nonprofit Alliance for Period Supplies, which collects, warehouses, and distributes menstrual hygiene product in local communities.


Lavy Pads – Tanzanian entrepreneur, model, and beauty contest winner Flaviana Matata has launched these high-quality feminine sanitary pads that are safe, comfortable, and affordable. Her goal is to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation and help vulnerable girls get pads for free while in school in low-income areas. Ten percent of her profits go directly towards this goal.


Mother Nature Products – This South African company has launched Glory Pads. They are plastic- and chemical-free, 100% natural and fully biodegradable within six months. They are highly absorbent, super soft and light, odor-free, and equipped with a unique bamboo charcoal center for maximum absorption and antibacterial properties. Revenue from Glory Pads supports MHH campaigns and educational programs in schools and communities.

 

 

T-Marc Tanzania – This organization is an independent, locally managed, non-governmental organization committed to improving the well-being of Tanzanians through programs that provide accessible, affordable health services and products in both Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. In January 2020, they launched Flowless sanitary pads. They are a high-quality, ultra-thin, and cost-effective product. They offer an ultra-soft cotton top layer, a breathable back sheet, super-absorbent core, side leakage protection, and aloe vera extract for freshness and smoothness.

Maji Safi Group

Maji Safi Group is committed to helping girls and women in Tanzania grain access to affordable menstrual hygiene products, so they can stay in school and be successful in the workforce. We are delighted to see that so many options are available. So far, our strongest partners are Anuflo Industries, AFRIpads, and Be Girl.

 

 

WASH and Child Mortality

In 2015, the UN set the Sustainable Development Goal of having safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) worldwide by 2030.

This hope has brought the direct need for these improvements to the forefront. Some two billion people have gained access to improved water and sanitation sources. But the work to eliminate WASH issues is far from over – 700 hundred million people still do not have access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion do not use improved sanitation facilities, and 1 billion still practice open defecation.

Poor WASH impacts children in unique ways and specifically affects child mortality rates. Children are especially susceptible to health issues from unimproved water sources because of their developing body systems – digestive, respiratory, lymphatic, etc. Their survival rates from the disease are also much lower when basic sanitation and hygiene resources are compromised. Worldwide, 6,000 children die of water-related diseases every day.

Evidence supporting a connection between child health outcomes and WASH conditions has often been limited and inconsistent. Still, recently, the development world has pushed to reexamine this relationship. The findings indicate that people with access to safe water and proper sanitation facilities have much lower child mortality risks and diarrhea. Historically, the most profound data has been linked to how poor WASH impacts diarrhea-based diseases among children.

WASH and Child Mortality

Importance of WASH in Developing Countries

Access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical for improving health and well-being in developing countries.
Poor WASH conditions can spread waterborne diseases and increase the risk of death, particularly among children.

In addition to its impact on health, access to WASH is also essential for economic development. This is because it allows for improved productivity and reduces healthcare costs. However, the lack of WASH facilities can also lead to increased gender inequality, as women and girls are often tasked with collecting water and dealing with the lack of proper sanitation facilities.

Investing in WASH initiatives in developing countries is a crucial step toward improving health outcomes, promoting economic growth, and reducing inequality.

The Connection Between WASH and Child Mortality Rates

There is a strong connection between access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and child mortality rates. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health consequences of poor WASH conditions due to their developing immune systems and higher exposure to pathogens in their environment.

The lack of access to clean water sources and proper sanitation facilities can increase the risk of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, which is one of the leading causes of child mortality worldwide. Poor hygiene practices in healthcare facilities can also contribute to infections and increase child mortality rates. Therefore, improving WASH conditions has a significant impact on reducing child mortality and improving health outcomes for children.

Importance of WASH in Developing Countries

WASH and Diarrheal Episodes

Children living in rural places plagued by WASH issues experience an average of four to eight diarrheal episodes per year between birth and age two. This suggests that they are exposed to many pathogens during their first two years of life. Diarrhea globally accounts for 1.4 million child deaths per year. The World Health Organization suggests that 58% of these deaths are linked to unsafe water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

Children are at high risk of being exposed to these dangerous pathogens in public play areas. Child play often occurs when soil and surface water have been infected with pathogens that cause serious health issues when ingested. Human feces is also a major contributor to soil-transmitted bacteria that cause diarrhea and other similar issues in young children. With the continual practice of open defecation in many communities, there are rich opportunities for children to ingest fecal bacteria, which leads to illness and possibly death. Data indicate that safer fecal disposal reduces childhood diarrhea occurrences by 37%. There is much-needed work to end open defecation and install proper latrines and toilets for people to use in these communities.

WASH and Diarrheal Episodes

WASH and Child Health Care 

Another focus area in WASH that would improve overall child health and reduce mortality rates is improved sanitation in healthcare facilities. Having clean water and proper sanitation in delivery rooms and during health services for mothers and babies would help reduce childhood mortality. Fundamental hygiene during labor and delivery, such as cleaning hands and surfaces, reduces the risk of infections and death up to 25%.

There is a great need in Tanzania’s healthcare facilities for more WASH education. Workers must be taught the importance of proper WASH practices, and we must work to ensure the proper equipment is available for them to use.

Improving and Saving Lives

For children to thrive physically and cognitively in their communities, there must be better WASH practices. Fundamental education on things like handwashing, food preparation, and proper waste disposal saves and improves lives. For example, handwashing with soap can reduce diarrheal diseases by 42 to 47%.

Every year, close to 11 million children die worldwide before their 5th birthday, primarily from preventable diseases, and another 300 million suffer from illnesses caused by WASH issues. Maji Safi Group’s mission is to help these numbers drastically decrease in rural Tanzania. Would you join us in saving and improving the lives of these children?

Menstrual Hygiene Management

It was 1968 when I started my period, and I was only 12. At that point in time, menstruation and sexuality were not surrounded by total silence in my rural corner of Denmark, but our mothers were not exactly chirping out information about budding teenage sexual desires and menstrual cycles. Menstrual hygiene management was focused on educational factors, however, many of that occurred beyond the household. We read books, heard about it from older sisters, girl-chatted among peers, and felt the vibes from the feminists who were burning bras, going to nudist island camps with their sisters, and championing the flower-power attitude towards sex. But without a doubt, the schools deserve most of the credit for educating us and keeping us safe from teenage pregnancies.

In Denmark, schools are not only meant to ensure academic qualifications, but they also play an important ‘civilizing role’ in that they are expected to provide the opportunity for all children to grow up as harmonious, happy, and genuine people for whom it is natural to consider other people’s welfare (Laura Gilliam and Eva Gulløv, Making children ‘social’: Civilising institutions in the Danish welfare state, Human Figuration, Feb. 2014). Source

Part of this paradigm is giving all students a profound knowledge of their bodies, respectful sexual relations, reproductive justice, STIs, contraceptives, and yes, basic information on vital menstrual hygiene management. Feeling a little bit awkward and mighty curious, we started sex education in sixth grade, and it was made very clear that teenage pregnancies reflected utmost stupidity and irresponsible behavior as we now had the knowledge to avoid them. I think my generation of teenagers – boys and girls – was the first to have the privilege of being empowered to control our own reproductive lives and understand the intricacies of desire, consent, and sexuality – the first generation of teenagers that was not told to abstain from having sex, but instead enjoy it responsibly, so our young lives, careers and dreams for the future would not be derailed by unwanted pregnancies or emotionally scarring abortions. Instead, we would be part of building a strong self, strong family, strong community, and a strong country.

DEFINITION: Teenage pregnancy or teenage childbearing is when a girl aged 15-19 is pregnant with her first child or gives birth.

Denmark’s sex education curriculum and even menstrual hygiene management are now among the most progressive in the world, so much so that the sixth week of the school year is dedicated entirely to all things sex and relationships. ‘Sex week’ — a play on the Danish homonym for ‘six’ and ‘sex’ — provides progressive and ambitious sex education to hundreds of thousands of young people. It is run by Sex & Samfund (Sex & Society), a non-profit dedicated to improving sex education in Denmark. And it works! Source.

This graph clearly shows how drastically the number of teenage births (Teenagefødsler) has decreased since 1973, and the teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are very low as well compared to most other places, including the US and many European countries.

 

Source

In 2017, only 474 children were born to teenage mothers in Denmark. The number of teenage pregnancies was, however, higher as some teenage girls chose abortion. In addition, the morning-after pill and pregnancy tests are available for over-the-counter purchase and very instrumental for early discovery of and prevention of pregnancy.

In the US, the birth rate has fallen dramatically over time as well.

 

Source

Source

In 2017, the CDC reported that a total of 194,377 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a birth rate of 18.8 per 1,000 women in this age group.  This is another record low for U.S. teens and a drop of 7% from 2016. Birth rates fell 10% for women aged 15–17 years and 6% for women aged 18–19 years.

menstrual hygiene management

The situation is very different in Tanzania. It has the 17th highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa, and according to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, teenage pregnancy has increased 4% since 2010. In 2016, statistics showed that one in four teenage girls aged 15-19 had begun childbearing. In the Mara Region, where Maji Safi Group works, teenage childbearing is at a whopping 37%. Source

The many drivers and consequences of teenage pregnancy seem to be hopelessly intertwined protagonists in a vicious cycle, and their relevance to Tanzania seems taken straight out of a textbook: low education attainment, poverty (often resulting in transactional sex/prostitution), limited economic opportunities, gender inequality, male-dominated social norms, child marriage, and a dire lack of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. It is also a huge problem in Tanzania that teenage mothers are not allowed to reenter the school system after giving birth.

When Maji Safi Group started working in Shirati in the Mara Region of Tanzania in 2012, menstruation was a taboo subject, and the access to female hygiene products and appropriate school bathrooms was so limited that menstruation contributed greatly to school absences and girls failing to succeed in school. We have helped change that!

Thanks to funding from private donors and grants from Beyond Our Borders and Dining for Women, we have built a nationally recognized Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program that has taught thousands of girls about their bodies, puberty, menstruation, healthy relationships, etc., given them access to feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons and menstrual cups), and enabled them to look to our Community Health Educators as mentors with whom they can freely discuss and celebrate being young women.

Maji Safi Group’s approach is echoed in Tara Culp-Ressler’s suggestions of five simple strategies to reduce teen pregnancies:
1. Teach teenagers comprehensive sex education from middle school up.
2. Target messages to both teen boys and teen girls.
3. Involve the whole community.
4. Make contraceptives (especially condoms) widely available.
5. Encourage mentoring to create open discussion of sexuality and contraception.
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We teach both boys and girls at primary and secondary schools throughout the Rorya District. We involve the whole community by broadcasting shows about MHM on area radio stations.

We use singing, dancing, and street theatre to teach at large community events and our Dining for Female Hygiene get-togethers.
We paint community murals to educate all generations about MHM.

Through classes and Female Hygiene Health Clubs, our Community Health Educators mentor our students and encourage candid discussions of menstruation, healthy relationships, etc.

We give girls access to female hygiene products: reusable pad, tampons, and menstrual cups.

We refer people wishing to obtain contraceptives to the Shirati KMT Hospital in hopes that they will overcome old-fashioned cultural norms.

We are a member of the national Task Force on Menstrual Hygiene Management and attend many regional and national conferences.

We are having a profound impact on the MHM landscape in Tanzania, but it is a marathon, and we have not crossed the finish line yet! The ultimate goal is to create systemic change, so a progressive, comprehensive sex education program becomes a permanent component in all Tanzanian schools.

Maji Safi Group will continue to work towards that goal – because all young people should have the knowledge to control their own reproductive lives and fulfill their dreams.

menstrual movements tanzania

Period Poverty in Tanzania

Maji Safi Group seeks to empower young women in Tanzania to reach their full potential and see them become strong leaders in their communities. However, one of the main obstacles to the educational and professional growth of these young women is the traditionally taboo subject of menstruation. Period poverty in Tanzania affects many women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products, and who are unable to manage their periods due to community stigma.

PERIOD POVERTY IN TANZANIA STATISTICS

In 2018, Tanzania’s government reported that 60% of women live in “absolute poverty.”

According to UNICEF, 27% of those living in the least developed countries like Tanzania lack access to sanitation services like a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. Managing periods is a major challenge. As a result, 85% of girls are forced to use unhygienic solutions, including using strips of cloth which can spread fungi and infection. 

Other important figures include:

  • Water facilities not available in 38% of Tanzanian schools
  • Water facilities are not operational in 46% of the cases
  • 63% of school latrines don’t have a place to dispose of sanitary pads

As of 2018, only 44.2 percent of schools in Tanzania had teachers trained on WASH issues, with only 50.8 percent of those teachers providing some type of feminine hygiene products to young girls. Maji Safi Group is committed to helping end these barriers to proper feminine hygiene. But first, we must seek to understand the available resource options and the issues with making them available for these women.

SCHOOLING ISSUES DUE TO PERIOD POVERTY IN TANZANIA 

Due to the shame associated with menstruation, girls often isolate themselves at home during menstruation, even missing school. Promoting menstrual health with information helps to break the silence surrounding period poverty in Tanzania. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), about one in ten African teenage girls in remote areas miss school during their menstruation cycle and eventually drop out due to issues that surround period poverty.

While most Tanzanians face water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues, there are specific struggles for women surrounding feminine hygiene. Especially in rural communities, menstruation is often surrounded by silence, leading to a lack of education and resources. Millions of girls know very little about their bodies and what happens when they menstruate. There is also a severe lack of access to proper sanitary materials, and available resources are often costly. The lack of resources often forces girls to use many unsanitary options such as leaves, pieces of a mattress filling, or used cloth.

Schools are an important setting when it comes to menstrual hygiene because of the lack of safe and private toilets, clean water for sanitation, and affordable and safe hygiene products prevents girls from safely managing their menstruation. This forces them to chronically miss school and sometimes drop out completely. As a result, these young women face long-term socio-economic and educational effects and sometimes teen pregnancy or social exclusion.

According to a 2015 study by TAWASANET Menstruation Health Management, the majority of girl students – or about 62% – miss school due physical illness that results from menstruation. In most cases, these young women miss between 1-3 days of class.

As of 2018, only 44.2 percent of schools in Tanzania had teachers trained on WASH issues, with only 50.8 percent of those teachers providing some type of feminine hygiene products to young girls. Maji Safi Group is committed to helping end these barriers to proper feminine hygiene. But first, we must seek to understand the available resource options and the issues with making them available for these women.

IMPORTANCE OF FEMALE HYGIENE

Period poverty in Tanzania generally refers to the inaccessibility women have to basic necessities when it comes to their menstrual cycles. Unfortunately, menstrual practices are still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions. As a result, adolescent girls remain ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practices, which lead to adverse health effects. 

To combat these prevalent issues, organizations like Maji Safi are taking intentional strides toward the development and acceptance of female hygiene

There are bacteria that naturally accumulate around the time of menstruation. Women and young girls are susceptible to infections during this time. For example, when there’s an imbalance of bacteria, females may experience infections like bacterial vaginosis, which can require antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, due to the issue of poverty, many women in the Tanzania region are unable to acquire such medicine and often succumb to other illnesses. 

Measure to take to ensure proper female hygiene include:

  • Changing period protection regularly
  • Washing to maintain health
  • Disposing of period products hygienically

Unfortunately, period poverty in Tanzania also means that many young women don’t have access to these types of practices. Maji Safi Group is working to address these common occurrences through products that promote general female hygiene. Options can be found below.

Disposable Pads: These are the most accessible hygiene products for women, but they are also the most expensive over time. Many families do not see the need for them, so it can be hard for girls to convince their families to make the purchase every month. The proper disposal of pads is also a barrier. The pads are often put into pit latrines, causing the latrines to fill up quickly and have a shortened life span.

Reusable Pads: These are harder to find but more cost-effective because they can last for a year or two. One barrier with reusable pads is where to dry them. Since menstruation remains such a taboo subject, many do not want these drying openly for others to see. Washing and sanitizing reusable pads also poses a problem due to the lack of clean water.

Tampons: These can be very difficult to find even in urban areas. When they can be found, the barrier women face is twofold: tampons have a high cost monetarily and culturally. Since they are so rare, supply chains charge a high price for tampons, especially in Tanzania. They are also not accepted culturally because of insertion.

Menstrual Cups: These are a great economical option for women. Menstrual cups last 3-5 years. Even though they may be expensive initially, they are a better option over time than disposable or reusable pads. Rural areas have a difficult time getting access to menstrual cups, and there are risks involved if a sterile water source is not available for cleaning. Menstrual cups also face the cultural barrier of having to be inserted.

Moving Forward: Addressing Period Poverty in Tanzania

Maji Safi Group is committed to providing proper education and access to resources surrounding feminine hygiene. One way we are accomplishing these goals is through Feminine Hygiene Groups where girls age 11-18 meet in after-school groups to learn about hygiene, health, and puberty. Participants in these groups receive reusable sanitary products, such as reusable menstrual pads and menstrual cups.

MSG’s Menstrual Hygiene Program is recognized as a founding member of the nationwide menstrual hygiene management coalition in Tanzania. The coalition is committed to improving the supply chain of menstrual products, educating girls and women on feminine hygiene, and breaking the silence of the barriers women face during menstruation. The young women in our programs have bright futures as leaders and change-makers, breaking stigmas and barriers surrounding menstruation and not letting this natural process keep them from reaching their goals any longer.