Uganda confirmed her first positive case of the new COVID-19 pandemic in March of last year as reported by various platforms including africanews.com. As people became increasingly concerned, scared, and panicked, Uganda’s Government decided it would be prudent to place the country on partial lockdown, followed by complete lockdown. While these efforts were credited with greatly reducing the spread of the disease, it goes without saying that they also severely harmed many segments of the public. These draconian measures would be as cruel as they sound in a low and moderate income country like Uganda, where people struggle to earn their daily bread, and where if they don’t work, there won’t be food on the table that day. The government, through the Prime Minister’s Office, launched a food distribution program for such a group of people. Please see the story by New Vision, a daily newspaper tabloid. However, the key question was and remains if food was all that the majority of Ugandans required; what about other essentials like water, soap, toothpaste, fuel, charcoal, clothing, and sanitary pads for young girls and women? We questioned the availability of menstrual hygiene items in light of evidence that various communities lacked access to other services such as a steady supply of water, which would have an impact on sanitation services. According to a recent statement from a local broadcasting TV station (NBS TV), girls in Kasese were exchanging sex for sanitary pads. The story may be followed on the NBS TV YouTube channel here

Period poverty was and has been a problem in Uganda even before the pandemic, especially in rural regions, which is why EcoSmart Uganda was founded with the goal of making sanitary products more affordable and accessible to this group of people. Despite the fact that the government has prioritized infrastructure development by building thousands of kilometers of road networks as evidenced by the 2021/22 budget here, it is still seeable that the country’s most distant locations are still difficult to reach. How will girls in rural places and hard to access areas get sanitary supplies given the restrictions on the flow of goods and services? How will they deal with their menstrual cycles? How will they be able to access MHM Education in the face of technological limitations? 

EcoSmart Uganda has also helped by distributing sanitary kits to less fortunate females in Kawempe Division and Mbarara District. The girls’ excitement and happiness were sheer evidence of how much more work is required of us in such times. In summary, EcoSmart Uganda wishes to acknowledge and thank UNFPA Uganda, KAO Corporation of Japan, and Outbox Uganda for their tireless and crucial support of the company’s operations.

MHM Education at Kawempe Division during the Menstrual Hygiene Campaign