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Sustainable sanitary pads for refugees produced with local and recycled material – The MakaPad

July 4, 2011


I.          The MakaPad Concept: Promoting Self Reliance Along Several Dimensions

In Uganda, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ, is implementing a project in cooperation with UNHCR and Makerere University that succeeds at addressing some of the most basic needs of refugees and the host community at the same time:

Based on the invention of Dr. M.K. Musaazi, a researcher at Makerere University, who has developed an affordable sanitary pad produced with local and recycled materials, the MakaPad production not only increases access to sanitary pads, but at the same time promotes the livelihood opportunities for both, the refugee and local community.

II.      The MakaPad  Production Process

The straightforward 4-Step Production Process looks as follows:

1. In a first step the necessary raw materials are collected: Locally available papyrus and recycled waste paper are the main components of the sanitary pads.  The collection process is outsourced.
It is a source of income to some affiliated collectors.

2. Once the essentials are obtained, the raw materials are, in a basic process, transformed to absorbent.

3. In the following phase the employees transform the absorbent into the final product, using a production line composed of basic tools and equipment. The main tasks are the softening, cutting and sealing of the pads.

4. Ultimately, every MakaPad has to undergo hygiene and quality control, to ensure sterilization and guarantee a decent standard quality of the final product.

III.        The MakaPad Potential

MakaPads not only serves to address the challenge of providing women with sanitary materials in emergencies, thus ensuring their dignity, but at the same time promotes local initiatives and entrepreneurship. By employing a decent number of permanent staff and generating income for the collectors of the raw materials, MakaPads therefore contributes to self reliance along several dimensions: It empowers women by making sanitary materials available and raising awareness for their needs. Moreover, it increases both refugees’ and host communities’ self-reliance through livelihood opportunities.

IV.       Perspectives

Since the start of the MakaPads production in 2006 it has evolved to become an extremely successful best practice with potential for replication. Currently, GIZ is investigating exporting MakaPads production to Kenya, where both, the needs of the refugee and host community regarding sanitary materials as well as livelihoods could profit tremendously from Dr. Mussazi’s invention.

Read also more here about sanitary pads keeping girls in school in Uganda.


Thank you to Ann-Kathrin Scheuermann and Annelie Albers (,  from the “GIZ UNHCR/BMZ Partnership Programme” in Kenya who has kindly provided the blog text and pictures.

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