Programme benefits women and girls

Albert Chavhunduka

More than five million women and children in Zimbabwe have benefitted through the Supporting a Resilient Health System (SRHS) programme funded by the UK between 2017 and 2022 which aims at improving access to hygiene and sanitary products for women and girls.

According to UNICEF, Zimbabwe continues to face severe constraints in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector especially in the rural areas where 70 percent of schools reported to neither have water nor soap necessary for girls to use while menstruating.

Since 2012, the UK has been working closely with government to improve and help provide sanitary products for schools.

This was revealed recently in a question and answer session for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shadow minister Ruth Jones.

Jones was asking the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Vicky Ford about the recent steps she has taken to help support women and girls in Zimbabwe to access women’s hygiene and sanitary products.

In a written response, Ford said the UK was working alongside other international partners to fund the SRHS programme in Zimbabwe.

“Alongside international partners, the UK has funded the ‘Supporting a Resilient Health System’ (SRHS) programme in Zimbabwe which delivered essential sexual, reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health and nutrition services,” she said.

“This programme benefitted 5.4 million women and children in Zimbabwe between 2017 and 2022.

“The SRHS programme delivered menstrual health education as part of the Sister2Sister (S2S) clubs which included supporting sustainable menstrual health options for girls such as disposable pads, reusable pads, menstrual cups and menstrual underwear.”

Ford further added that the UK and Zimbabwe are closely working together to promote hygiene and enhance availability of sanitary wear in schools across the country through the Zimbabwe Secondary Education(ZGSE) programme.

“The UK is also working alongside the Government of Zimbabwe to help provide sanitary products for schools. Since 2012, 60 000 girls have been provided with sanitary pads, have been provided through the UK-supported Zimbabwe Secondary Education (ZGSE) programme.

Government, with support from UNICEF-Zimbabwe and other partners approved a gender sensitive Sanitation and hygiene policy which aims at creating an open defecation free Zimbabwe by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The main purpose of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme is to promote access to healthy and safe water, adequate sanitation and improved hygiene.

It also focuses on long-term prevention and control measures for improving health, reducing poverty and improving socio-economic development.