Biodegradable Sanitary Pads; Kenyan Woman is Making Environmental Friendly Pads from Agricultural Waste.
Sanitary pads are a major problem for African women and girls in terms of accessibility and affordability.
The ones available are relatively expensive and classified as single-use plastics; unfriendly to the environment as they take long to decompose.
However, Mary Nyaruai from Thika is helping to tackle this environmental problem.
Through her enterprise, Nyungu Afrika loosely translated to “womb of Africa”; Nyaruai is creating a low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pad made from agricultural waste.
Nyaruai came up with a solution employing widely available raw materials after facing difficulties acquiring safe-quality pads.
“Maize is a staple in Africa and this is waste,” said Nyaruai. “So I normally go and collect it from the market. And this is also waste, pineapple leaves are waste, so I also collect them from the farms. So when you combine those two, you make a very beautiful pad that is soft. It delivers in comfort and also absorption and it is also sustainable, which is a brilliant thing.”
Once collected, the agricultural wastes undergo rigorous processes to break down the natural fibers and mold the raw material into biodegradable sanitary pads.
Her pads are getting good reviews. Nyambura Maina is one of Nyaruai’s customers.
“It felt like I was sitting on clouds because the material is very different. Her pads are very soft, the absorbency is good,” said Maina. “It becomes really a lifesaver for yourself.”
Nyaruai hopes her innovation can help Kenyan women not only with their health but with their financial well-being.
“Period poverty is a global crisis, but because Africa has a very large population of women who are marginalized and underserved, this is where period poverty really eats our women,” Nyaruai said.
“This is a makeshift, small industry, so it is possible to be replicated in very many areas. Just to train the women how to, you know, pick the right raw materials and to process them and then to make the pads.”