Improved menstrual hygiene brings couples together in Adamawa State, northeast Nigeria

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM), helped improve menstrual hygiene among women.

Samuel Kaalu
UNICEF Nigeria/2017/Drissa
11 May 2017

Adamawa, northeast Nigeria, 11 May 2017 – Women in Fufore town, Adamawa state have imbibed good menstrual hygiene practices due to efforts made by UNICEF-trained community members. These practices, which include personal hygiene and proper use of menstrual pads, have fostered intimacy between couples especially in Sabongari ward of Fufore town.

Before menstrual hygiene was demystified in Sabongari, men stayed away from their wives during their menstrual periods. The offensive odour that emanated from their homes due to poor hygiene practices often kept the men away.

Thirty-five-year-old Maimuna Sulaiman, who lives in Sabongari, explained why women in her community were alienated during menstruation. “Some women simply removed the rags used for menstruation and tucked them under their beds,” said Maimuna. ‘’Other women who managed to wash their menstrual pads didn’t dry them out in the sun but inside their houses to avoid shame in a community where menstruation was considered a taboo.’’

However, the efforts of UNICEF-trained female members of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM), have helped improve menstrual hygiene among women in Sabongari. The WASHCOM members have passed on the training they received from UNICEF on good menstrual hygiene to the women in the community. WASHCOM was established as part of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project funded by the European Union (EU) in collaboration with the Adamawa State government.

“We have been taught that we must change our menstrual pads during menstruation, and when using improvised menstrual pads, we must wash them in hot water and dry them out in the sun,’’ Maimuna said.

As a result, 90 per cent of the 500 women in Sabongari are now practising good menstrual hygiene. The women are knowledgeable on how to dispose used menstrual pads, and how to clean the improvised ones for reuse. This improved menstrual hygiene has also encouraged the men in the community to be more supportive to their wives during menstruation.