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Uncertainty looms over sustainability of free sanitary towels programme

There  is uncertainty  over  the sustainability of the free sanitary towels programme for girls in primary and secondary  schools.

This  is after it emerged that fewer towels than the number of beneficiaries were delivered and that only a single delivery has been made to many sub-counties since the launching of the programme last year.

In  Murang’a County the programme was launched in Kandara Sub County in September 2018. Distribution to other sub counties  was carried out thereafter with Maragua and Mathioya receiving their consignment in March 2019, six months later.

While tabling a report on the programme to the County Service Delivery Committee, Murang’a County Gender Officer, Beatrice  Gachie said that the county received 323,922 packets recording a deficit of 39,158. This means that while each girl was  supposed to receive four packets of pads, many received less than that.

The programme targeted about 39,124 girls in classes six to eight and 53,000 girls in form one to form four. The officer  said that the suppliers were to be blamed for delivering lesser quantities saying that the department was addressing the  issue.

The  committee expressed worry over delays on delivery of the pads noting that the girls have now gone for a whole term without the pads and another term has started without a delivery. It urged the Department of Gender Affairs that is  implementing the programme to ensure that it addressed the gaps so that the programme meets the intended goals.

Issues  were also raised on the quality of pads that had been distributed with reports of some beneficiaries complaining that the pads they received were substandard.

The  gender officer, however, assured the committee that the quality issue had been raised and the contractors warned against delivering substandard pads.

The  free sanitary programme is aimed at reducing absenteeism among girls, many of who were reported to have been missing classes during menses thereby negatively affecting their academic performance. The supply should therefore be consistent to ensure that the girls have supplies for each month.

For  accountability and transparency in the programme, Sub county Inspection Committees chaired by Deputy County Commissioners have been formed to certify that the pads are supplied to the beneficiaries accordingly.

At the school level, a record is maintained indicating how the towels have been issued with each girl signing receipt of  the number of packets they get.

By  Judith  Thuo

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