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Project information

Sanitary Towel Project

Supporting vulnerable young women to establish a centre for producing sanitary towels which they desperately need. This project will reduce HIV rates, increase girl's attendance at school, protect the environment and provide a secure income for poor women and their dependents.

March 2015 - March 2016

Charity information: Challenge Africa

Challenge Africa logo
  • Need


    In Nyanza Province, Kenya, young women are contracting HIV from visiting fishermen who pay for sex. One of the main reasons women do this they say, is to buy sanitary towels which they cannot otherwise afford.
    Once a month, most young girls take an average four days off school because they have their period and have no sanitary towels. They miss vital education, fall behind and drop out of school, often before they are 16 years old. Without education, women cannot break out of poverty.


    Challenge Africa will set up another successful sewing training centre which specifically makes environmentally-friendly sanitary towels. Unemployed local women will be taught sewing skills and supported to make quality, affordable, sustainable sanitary towels for their community. Towels will be sold cheaply and donated to orphaned girls. The project can be an example for other villages; reducing HIV infection rates and ensuring young women attend and stay in education.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To give young women an alternative way to get sanitary towels other than engaging in 'sex for cash'


    » Build a small sanitary towel producing centre Teach women to make reusable sanitary towels Sell the towels cheaply Donate towels to most in need

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by selling 400 bags of sanitary towels in the first year.The project manager will also gather data from the women's groups and chemist/shops in the towns.

    Aim 2

    To reduce HIV prevalence rates from 33% amongst young women in areas of Nyzanza Province (UN AIDS)


    » We will provide women with the skills and resources to make/obtain sanitary towels themselves and not engage in risky sex to procure them
    » We will run workshops advertising the sanitary towels + highlighting how to use reusable towels, in conjunction with HIV awareness

    What success will look like

    Working with the local health workers to measure data; within 5 years of setting up the sanitary towel project, we should see a fall in HIV infection rates in 2 nearby villages.

    Aim 3

    Women who make the towels will gain skills, sewing qualifications and a secure income


    » A sewing tutor will teach unemployed women how to design and sew whilst a support staff member will give them numeracy support

    What success will look like

    Success will initially be 15 women trained to produce high quality sanitary towels after year one, with a salary being paid to them each week.

    Aim 4

    The project will provide a much needed example of manufacturing and income generation to villagers


    » By running sensitive workshops in the community, villagers will see the benefits of the project. Networking with other orgs will share best practice

    What success will look like

    Success will be enquiries from other villages and organisations about the project and requests to help establish similar successful centres in Kenya.

    Aim 5

    The environment will be improved as there are currently used sanitary towels around the villages


    » We will ensure sanitary towels produced are made to be reusable, natural and environmentally friendly. Volunteers will hold safe clean-ups

    What success will look like

    Success will be a significant amount of discarded towels collected from 2 villages and disposed of responsibly. It will also be an environmental assessment of rubbish after 1 year.

  • Impact


    This small project will bring about great change including reducing women's need to exchange their bodies for basic items which means less engagement in risky sex and the HIV infection often associated with it. We will monitor infection rates to demonstrate the decline in HIV infection by working closely with our VCT partners in the province. We will demonstrate success by 120 vulnerable teenage girls attending school regularly for a year.15 village women will pass their tailoring qualification.


    There is the risk that a learner may leave the sewing training project so a waiting list will be created to ensure there are always enough staff to work at the centre.
    There is the risk that the shops in town will be negative about the competition for sanitary towel sales, we will deal with this risk by the project manager liaising with their staff and explaining the benefits of the community project. There are health+safety issues with the sewing machines so a qualified tutor is employed


    Donors will receive monthly email reports on the project and the individuals being trained, including photos.Funders will be welcome to visit the project and engage with Challenge Africa on Facebook+Twitter.A bi-annual financial report will be mailed out to all donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,100

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,100 treadle sewing machines 16 treadle sewing machines based at the centre
      £2,000 sewing tutor+project manager Salaries for a qualified sewing tutor and time spent by Challenge Africa's Project Manager (1 year)
      £1,150 All materials+electricity Fabric, meshs,scissors plus electricity bill and water collection
      £850 Tailoring qualifications National Tailoring Qualification for 16 students (15 plus 1)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Raphael Bruneau £2,000 Conditional
    Caroline Frey £1,000 Guaranteed
    Collette Lord £150 Conditional
  • Background


    Wagusu and Abimbo villages are in Nyanza Province, Kenya.The villages struggle with acute poverty and the highest rate of HIV AIDS in Kenya. Reducing infection rates, introducing income generating activities for local women, and helping girls stay in education are huge challenges facing the area.
    Challenge Africa has established successful projects in the area, encouraging growth, self sufficiency, innovation and volunteerism. The villages are ready for a project of this nature.


    Women exchanging their bodies for sanitary towels will benefit from a safe,easy way to protect themselves.They will not be risking their life to procure such basic items. Teenage girls will be able to attend school during their period so will gain a better education and reap the benefits of it in an area of low attainment.
    15 women will be taught skills+will receive an income to permanently lift themselves+their families out of poverty.The whole community will benefit from a cleaner environment

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Challenge Africa is the only charity currently working with the villagers of Abimbo and Wagusu. Since 2006, we have brought water and electricity to the area and helped the community establish community centres, schools, poultry farms, orphan respite care homes and health groups. We have established a very successful dress making centre with graduates moving on to set up their own dressmaking businesses. Every penny donated goes to the project rather than on admin, marketing or UK staff costs.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Eleanore Regan

    As UK Director, I will liaise with Kenyan staff, UK volunteers+CA's Finance Director to ensure we are in budget, meeting all aims and measuring impact

    Joanna Lumley

    As Patron, we will request Joanna to take an active interest in the project, tweeting about developments and encouraging support and donors.

    Edwin Ogillo

    Edwin, CA's Kenya Director will oversee the project, manage the sewing tutor, build local partnerships+ensure those most in need get sanitary towels.

    Elizabeth Macrine

    Elizabeth is a qualified dressmaker+tailor. She will teach sewing to the learners, enter the women for the qualification+lead in manufacturing.

I saw how Challenge Africa is actively improving the lives of 100s of people everyday. The dedication of the team there is staggering'

James Hooley -UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office