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Project Summary

[PROJECT SUMMARY] Female Sanitation And Hygiene Malawi July 2019

July was the first month operating the Female Hygiene and Sanitation Project in Malawi. Despite growing attention on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in the global arena there has been little quantifiable data and research collected on the space in Malawi. The team entered the month almost completely in the dark, with no idea how the project would go or how it would be received by the community. In light of the sensitive nature of menstruation, the first steps taken was meetings with Female Chiefs and Elders of the community. Through these meetings, the team were able to learn about the cultural significance of menstruation regarding what it symbolises and the behaviors and practices around it. Insights gained through this enabled the team to move forward in operations with cultural sensitivity, along with building relationships and gaining the support of strong, influential women of the community. 

From here, the team stepped into conducting primary research and data collection, seeking to learn and understand the experiences, struggles and pains of women with menstruation. Data was collected in three ways. The first two, extensive paper surveys and focus group discussions, were run simultaneously in community meetings. Through this, the team gained data points from 94 women in completed surveys and engaged with over 60 women in focus group discussions. The third form of data collection was facilitated externally through teachers and youth group workers who conducted a survey with school-aged girls. This resulted in a further 121 data points. The team accumulated the data into a primary research statistics report, which was then analysed to identify the customer segment and problem definition. The key findings of the primary research was that menstruating women in Malawi are extremely limited in their ability to access and afford adequate materials for MHM. Struggles were found across all ages and demographics, with majority of women stating dissatisfaction with their current solution.

In conjunction with the primary research the team ran an offer test in order to validate that women in Malawi are actively seeking a solution that allows comfort and dignity throughout menstruation. This test validated the problem, customer segment and UVP and the team moved forward into ideation of a solution. 

 A number of considerations were taken into account through the ideation phase. Primarily, the team sought to find a solution addressing the key pain points women identified. The three features decided on for an MVP are; leak-free, comfortable and requiring changing/cleaning no more than twice a day. Secondary features for an optimal solution are: stain-free, odourless and discrete. A further consideration through the ideation was designing a product that was culturally aligned. The team was aware of the elder demographics concern that they are losing their culture with development, and wish to involve them in the changes occurring in MHM in their community. 

In consideration of all the above, the team settled on two solutions to trial for currency and utility testing. The first solution is menstrual cups, this is foreign concept to the community and will require slow implementation, however is the most suited solution to the needs and desires of the customer segment. The second solution is reusable pads which is more culturally aligned and familiar to local women. However is significantly more complicated to design and manufacture a reusable pad that fits the required MVP features. The team conducted desktop research and  held meetings with She, AfriPads, Grace Pads, Tina Pads and the Cova cup to find materials and a design that fit the MVP requirements. The team also looked into the costs and legalities surrounding importing and manufacturing materials for menstrual cups and reusable pads. Moving forward, the goal is to begin currency testing and utility testing both solutions with the communities engaged with throughout July. 

The Female Sanitation and Hygiene Team have been incredibly humbled by the support and encouragement of every woman they have engaged with in July. Across the openness of community women sharing their experiences, the generosity and warmth of chiefs sharing their culture, and the support and encouragement of other organisations working in the space. The project and support it has gained embodies the concept and power of women helping women, and the potential impact of the project’s success is boundless for community development and female empowerment. 

edited on 28th July 2019, 08:07 by Jemima Crawford

Grace Blackford 6 months ago

Status label added: Project Summary

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raichad0 5 months ago

Looks great! bullet force

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