Megan White Mukuria
ZanaAfrica pads are sanitary pads which is distributed to girls for free through local organizations.
Zanaafrica Pads are eco-friendly pads manufactured in Kenya. ZanaAfrica has created two lines of sanitary pads. Safi pads target women and girls that purchase pads, while Nia pads are distributed to girls for free through local organizations. However, as of 2020, Nia seems to be the only brand sold.
Instead of solely stocking its products at large vendors, ZanaAfrica leverages established NGO partnerships with groups like Marie Stopes International and Living Goods to deploy door-to-door saleswomen. Through these representatives, ZanaAfrica reaches women and girls in small towns and remote communities.
0.75 USD (80 KES) per 8 – pack
Traditional methods (ex. reusable cloth), Commercial menstrual pads (ex. Always brand, which can be too expensive for low-income girls and women to afford).
Women and girls in Kenya, who use unsafe materials for their menstrual cycle, and miss school and work. ZanaAfrica works with girls between ages 10~21 in particular; this is because its educational programs and content are designed for this age group.
ZanaAfrica Group is a Kenyan-based social enterprise which claims to manufacture the sanitary pads and related products designed for and by women. ZanaAfrica Group uses local agricultural by-products to promote sustainability of the distribution system, without dependency on foreign imports.Experts have questioned the manufacturing capability availability in the region as fairly complex equipment is required, e.g. to apply the colored sides and the high resolution embossing.
The sanitary pads are distributed through NGO partnerships which deploy door-to-door saleswomen, along with stocking products at some large vendors. ZanaAfrica does sell termly school kits that consist of 32 pads (four 8-packs in both Regular and Super) and cotton underwear designed to accommodate all body types. This provides girls with safe, hygienic sanitary pads throughout the school term. To encourage continuity of product distribution, the ZanaAfrica Foundation creates girl-led reproductive health education resources and fosters long-term relationships with community-based organizations and NGOs who purchase termly kits on behalf of girls.
From 2013, ZanaAfrica’s community-based sales have been reached 50,000 girls.
Zana africa pad is 100% organic cotton pads which is same as biodegradable cotton sanitary napkins. The pad is also chemical free, for sensitive skin.
This product is promoted as good for up to eight hours, though good sanitary measures are encouraged and variable by user.
Designer specified performance targets include: high absorbency, and low-cost
Testing by manufacturer
The pads shouldn’t be used more than 8-10 hours.
Jeniffer, K B., 2019, Innovative Ways of Dealing With Menstrual Health Among the Marginalized Communities in Kenya. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 6, pp. 256-274
Tull, K., 2019, Period Poverty Impact on the Economic Empowerment of Women. K4D Helpdesk Report
Mag, E., et al., 2017, Acceptability and Performance of the Menstrual Cup in South Africa: A Randomized Crossover Trial Comparing the Menstrual Cup to Tampons or Sanitary Pads. Journal of Women’s Health., Vol. 24.
Tested by manufacturer
ZanaAfrica has entered into 14 public and private partnerships, which are increasing distribution channels, raising visibility, and enhancing research capabilities. ZanaAfrica is now aiming to include educational comics with their pads to promote reproductive health and menstrual hygiene education.
Experts have questioned the financials that enable to ZanaAfrica to sell the pads at low cost and whether subsidies or donations are applied. The design with wings indicates significant design waste in production, which normally increases the cost. Also the construction seems to be quite complex, with several raw materials (rolled goods like cover, barrier etc.) being used. Most of these raw materials are not produced in Africa, in particular the cover materials.
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