'We Need the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund' Menstrual Health Activist in Kenya

Story
"There is so much left to be done. We need the global support and the global reach of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to promote sustainable sanitation and hygiene, including handwashing, so we can achieve SDG 6.2." As WSSCC is evolving into the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund by 2021, one of its devoted members in Kenya calls for countries and donors to support the new fund. 
By
Daniel Karanja, WSSCC Member and Founding Director COSEDI

Daniel Karanja

 

I became a member of WSSCC in January 2017. Being a member of WSSCC has exposed me to new opportunities, enabled me to learn critical new skills, and has allowed me to become a voice for menstrual health.

It has also given me the opportunity to better understand the global sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health crisis. Thanks to WSSCC, we have been able to raise the issue and have made some progress, but it is critical now that we scale up our efforts. We need the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to support countries so that they can address menstrual health and hygiene and achieve sanitation and hygiene for all.

The journey of my membership with WSSCC started with the implementation of the Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (K-SHIP). During the second Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Conference in Nairobi, I had the opportunity to interact with the inspiring Menstrual Health Management (MHM) Lab, which has since become the ultimate tool I use in my work to promote men and boys’ inclusion in MHM.

In 2017, I received training on Real-Time Emergent Learning (RTEL), which is an approach that provides a framework for setting up systematic learning and nurtures a culture of collective learning for rapid programmatic adaptations. The training session was supported by WSSCC through their partnership with Amref Health Africa, the agency executing K-SHIP interventions in Kenya.

This training equipped me with crucial skills in learning and sharing innovations and allowed me to expand my knowledge around menstrual health and hygiene. I learned how imperative it is for men and boys to be proactively engaged in sustainable interventions that address the menstrual health needs of adolescent girls and, both at the household level and in public spaces.

Daniel

Demonstrations on using menstrual materials at the MHM lab during YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) training at Kenyatta University in February 2020

At the second National MHM Training of Trainers in October 2017, I gained further knowledge and skills that gave me confidence in engaging with men and boys on the importance of supporting menstruating women and adolescent girls and upholding their dignity during menstruation. Thanks to this training, when I was approached by a national television station in Kenya in the lead up to the 2018 World Menstrual Hygiene Day, I had the confidence and knowledge to speak about the role of men and boys in supporting MHM.

My first presentation at international conferences took place during the Water Engineering Development Centre (WEDC) 2018 at Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya, where I highlighted how to build on the principles of RTEL from my experience implementing K-SHIP. I also supported sessions at the MHM Lab.

The year 2019 was the highlight (thus far) of my membership. My abstract on innovation around engaging men and boys in supporting MHM was accepted in several international conferences, including the Colorado WASH Symposium, the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, UDS-DRI/CIWAS International Wash Conference in Tamale, Ghana, and AGUASAN.

WSSCC also provided support that allowed me to attend and facilitate a session called “Youth Engagement, MHM: Health and dignity for all” at World Water Week 2019 in Stockholm, and a similar session at the Kenya Sanitation Conference 2019 in Nairobi, where I also facilitated sessions at the MHM Lab.

Daniel Karanja explains Menstrual Health and Hygiene to a team of police officers at a conference in Kenya

 

Membership of WSSCC also led to other opportunities, such as a training programme at the Young African Leader Initiative (YALI). And it has also allowed me to become a voice for menstrual health activism, as I am currently blogging for international organisations in the sanitation sector, including IRC WASH and Sanitation and Water for All (SWA).

I can truly say that, thanks to my membership in WSSCC, I have been presented with a variety of opportunities that have taken my career as a young professional in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to new heights.

As the organization continues to evolve and becomes the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund, I would like to share my heartfelt gratitude for the organization’s career, personal growth and development support, which comes as a result of a strong and mutually beneficial membership base.

But even beyond the benefits to my individual career, my appeal is for countries and donors to support the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund. There is so much left to be done – we need the global support and the global reach of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to promote sustainable sanitation and hygiene, including handwashing, so we can achieve SDG 6.2.