Uganda is the third largest refugee-hosting country in the world, a temporary home to over 1 million South Sudanese refugees and recently to refugees fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most refugees arriving in Uganda are granted immediate rights as legal residents, access to current education systems, a plot of land, and tools for homesteading. Refugee settlements, however, are typically far away from healthcare systems and formal markets, requiring expensive transportation or walking long distances in the heat to access these. Coupled with limited livelihood options, refugees often struggle to access or afford personal hygiene items and undergarments. With many of the refugees having arrived in the last few years, many have had their formal education disrupted and combined with conservative cultural norms, knowledge on sexual and reproductive health issues is very limited.
The Unmentionables has been working in Uganda since 2017, operating through partner NGOs based in Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement. Together, we have distributed reusable sanitary kits and bras to women and girls in four areas of the settlement. This has targeted vulnerable women and girls who are living in overpopulated or marginalized areas of the settlement and those who have not received any menstrual hygiene management (MHM) support by other organizations.
The Unmentionables also provides training to our partner NGOs, which includes basic MHM education and instructions on how to use and care for reusable sanitary products. They then provide MHM education to those attending the distribution events as well as during other community outreach work.
In order to build sustainability into our projects in Uganda, The Unmentionables has recently started working with the community based NGOs; Community Development Centre (CDC), Project 2-5, and ASHWA, to help refugee women to tailor their own reusable sanitary products.
The reusable sanitary kits included a combination of period underwear, waterproof shields and reusable liners, cloth bags for transport, reusable bags for soiled fabric, a period tracking chart, care/wash instructions, bucket, and soap. In line with our Smart Aid Principles, these products are purchased from regional suppliers, and soap and buckets are purchased from local manufacturers. You can support this project by purchasing these items from our Dignity Warehouse.