The MakaPads project arose out of a research that revealed that academic performance of most girls dropped at puberty level and a high rate of absenteeism from school by poor schoolgirls. This was due to failure to access affordable sanitary towels during menstruation. For those who dared to go to school used unhygienic provisions and faced humiliation from boys. For many girls in the rural areas, menstruation means no school. The innovation and products from MakaPads have come in to meet this need by providing an effective low cost protection to the girls. The pads are made out of papyrus and paper waste.
For many schools, in the rural areas, these pads are given out free of charge or at 50% less than the cost of the imported sanitary towels. This has helped keep the girl- child in school. MakaPads is the only brand manufactured in Uganda and from local materials out of more than 32 brands of sanitary pads currently sold in Uganda.
MakaPads are disposable pads have a natural absorbent with a high absorption capacity and are chemically-free. MakaPads do not itch and do not smell. They are the only pads in Uganda which are biodegradable and does not fil up pit latrines fast as other brands, especially in schools.
The research in MakaPads has progressed into designing of the Maternity Bed Pads. These have been tested in selected hospitals and maternity clinics namely; Mulago Medical Centre Kitebi, Lions Medical and Laboratory Services in Kitebi, Kagoma Maternity clinic, Makindye Medical Centre, Cure Medical centre Salaama and in Wakiso district.
The production of MakaPads is, by design, largely manual so as to offer employment to many people. At the peak of production about 225 people, both skilled and unskilled, including refugees, are engaged in the different stages of production. This has economically empowered the women living in the camps especially those living with HIV by integrating them in the production process. Women are employed in the various production factories within the refugee camps. Since 2008 to date, refugees in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement (in Kyegegwa District) produce MakaPads all of which are bought by UNHCR for distribution to all refugee women and girls throughout Uganda. This greatly improved peoples livelihoods. Below we bring you some highlights on how the project has helped improve some livelihoods.
MakaPads changed my life – Pros Nansiimbi – I am the team leader of workers of Makapads in Gayaza. Makapads has helped us the women and girls to get high quality sanitary pads at a cheaper price and maintain our daughters in schools.
I have been an employee of Makapads for the last fie years and today I lead a team of six other employees. Makapads is my source of income. I get a salary at the end of the month and its timely payment. My colleagues and I are able to sustain our families, pay fees for our children and we are a happy group thanks to Makerere University not only that they gave us the jobs but also helping to keep the girl child in schools.
I appeal to the public to embrace our sanitary pads which are chemical free, high quality and cheap for use.
9 years at Makapads have changed my life – Nakiito – The nine years that Ms Catherine Nakiito has spent at Makapads have transformed her into an all-round person and she is full of praise for the project that has saved lives and reduced on the high rate of the girl child school dropout.
“I fist came here as a student who had failed to raise my university fees and I have seen the production of Makapads growing over the years,” Nakiito says. “I started as quality controller for 3 years, I was site supervisor for the construction of the Kawempe plant and I have learnt leadership skills. I am also gaining skills in accounts which is tuning me into an all-round person.”
The various positions Ms Nakiito has held at Makapads have helped her get more exposure and she is good at interacting with people at various levels like school children, NGOs among many others. She has also widely travelled in almost all parts of Uganda. As Makapads team, we have a SACCO and this has helped in paying fees for my siblings.
To the young people, Ms Nakiito says they just need to be confient, have passion for what they want to be and be ready to listen and learn from others. “We have done a lot of research with Makapads and I urge the public to support this cause of keeping the girl child in school, reach out for our products and use them. People shouldn’t under look what is done here locally but instead support us,” says Ms Nakiito.