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Working together to improve menstrual health in Kenya

May 28th is annually celebrated as Global Menstrual Hygiene Day and this year’s theme is ‘More Action and investment in menstrual health now!’. So this year we wanted to share with you more details on how you are making it possible for Dig Deep to step up and invest in menstrual health for the people of Bomet County.

At Dig Deep we are currently in the privileged position of working on a project to improve menstrual health in Bomet County, in collaboration with Irise International. Irise is a charity that specialises in menstrual health in East Africa, and they’ve been working with communities, academics and policymakers for nearly a decade to develop effective solutions to the challenges people experience during their periods. The menstrual health of women and girls is too often considered a secondary priority when it comes to thinking about water and sanitation. We want to put it front and centre in what we do, but we understand there’s lots of ways to progress menstrual health: be it through advocacy, education, knowledge generation or improvements to infrastructure.

This collaborative project is brilliant because it’s combining all of the above. Irise is working to develop a ‘community of best practice’ for menstrual health, where many organisations can share knowledge and expertise, present a united front to advocate for change, and bring their own strengths to collaborations. Our role in this project is to develop a gender sensitive policy for water and sanitation in Bomet. Through our household survey, we’ve been gathering data on how women perceive the quality of their menstrual health provision, and how comfortable (or not) they feel in themselves and in society during their periods. We’re going to keep on doing this, asking for more input from community members to develop a set of priorities for menstrual health in the county that is genuinely democratic: created in partnership between public institutions and the community.

Two women standing in a front of a house speaking
Taken during our recent household survey this photo shows a Dig Deep enumerator and survey participant in conversation

We think all this is really exciting. Not least because the scope of the data collection we’ve done is unprecedented (as far as we know!). It’s also going to help change the paradigm of how menstrual health is thought about in Bomet. However, what’s really groundbreaking about this project is that the work we’re doing on the ground will be used to develop better tools and frameworks to help improve the provision of menstrual health across Kenya, and beyond.

Some of that may sound hyperbolic, and to some extent it is. This project is only a small step towards the lofty goal of ensuring that having a period is not a barrier to access in the world. But it’s through collaborations like these, and the invaluable work of organisations like Irise, that the small steps forward we make aren’t wasted, but are maintained and developed over time until we get there.

Written by Joe Hook, Programmes Officer

We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of The Waterloo Foundation, an independent grant-making Foundation. They support programmes that help globally, with particular focus on the disparity of opportunities, wealth and the unsustainable use of the world’s natural resources.

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