Chamundeshwari MLA G.T. Devegowda to inaugurate the project on Aug. 23
Mysore/Mysuru: Sanitary waste management has been the least explored and debated of all the streams of solid waste that are generated at the household level and its disposal is a huge problem that needs to be tackled on an urgent basis.
In Mysuru, the Nagawala Gram Panchayat (GP) of Yelwal hobli in Chamundeshwari Constituency is on the way to becoming a ‘Zero Sanitary Waste Gram Panchayat’ as the Panchayat has already taken steps for its women to use sanitary cups and eco-friendly cloth pads that do not have plastic in them.
The Mysuru Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat is organising a programme on Aug. 23 at Nagawala where the ‘Zero Sanitary Waste Gram Panchayat’ programme will be inaugurated by MLA G.T. Devegowda and presided over by Gram Panchayat President C. Narendra.
MP Pratap Simha, Additional Chief Secretary of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Uma Mahadevan, Director of Abdul Nazir Sab State Institute of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Lakshmi Priya, ZP CEO B.R. Poornima and Assistant Commissioner Kamala Bai will be the chief guests.
The programme will be steered by Hasiru Dala, a non-profit organisation working for waste pickers and informal waste collectors in select cities of Karnataka. Hasiru Dala also manages some of the dry waste collection centres and a zero-waste management facility of the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC).
Studies have shown that one sanitary pad could take from 500 to 800 years to decompose as the plastic used is not bio-degradable, and can lead to health and environmental hazards. Disposal of used single-use sanitary pads in a systematic way is difficult and throwing them in open areas causes infections and diseases.
To reduce these single-use sanitary napkin usage and to promote reusable menstrual products among women, Hasiru Dala has been continuously working on a sustainable menstruation practice where they provide training to school, college girls, women groups in rural and urban areas of Mysuru, women employees of Karnataka State Open University and also to the women Police personnel.
Three years of groundwork
Under the ‘Zero Sanitary Waste Gram Panchayat’, girls between 12 and 21 years and women between 22 to 45 years from five villages that come under the Nagawala Gram Panchayat will be trained to use cloth pads and reusable menstrual cups to stop the usage of single-use sanitary pads.
Speaking to SOM, R. Anil Kumar, Director of Hasiru Dala Mysuru Division, said that for the last 3 years they have been creating awareness of sustainable menstruation practice both in Mysuru city and villages around the city. “We have done a lot of groundwork as part of the pilot project in Keelanapura, Siddalingapura, Gungral Chatra, Jayapura and Nagawala. We have realised that despite initial reservations, thanks to social taboo on menstruation, women were open to using reusable menstrual cups and cloth pads,” he said.
Hasiru Dala has conducted many surveys in villages and the women gynaecologists in the team and women volunteers have taken Anganwadi and ASHA workers into confidence and have spoken to women in each household and made them aware of the harmful effects of plastic-based sanitary pads and were convinced about menstrual cups that can be used with ease and convenience up to 10 years.
As part of the groundwork, WhatsApp groups were created to clear the doubts of women about menstrual cups.
Anganwadi and ASHA workers involved
“Due to the groundwork by women gynaecologists and volunteers, there is acceptance of eco-friendly solutions and particularly impressed are Anganwadi and ASHA workers. Also, many women Panchayat members and Presidents too have opted for sustainable solutions. We thought that by choosing Nagawala Gram Panchayat, we will go for a targeted campaign to make the village ‘Zero Sanitary Waste Gram Panchayat’ instead of spreading out to many villages,” Anil Kumar revealed.
“Once the inauguration is over, we will go step-by-step in creating awareness in all the five villages that come under Nagawala where there are over 2,000 women in the target group and our volunteers and women gynaecologists will train them in hygiene and the bad effects of the plastic-based sanitary pads. After three to four months, we will check the effectiveness of the campaign to see the percentage of use of sustainable menstruation and ascertain if there are any problems. All the issues will be addressed by our gynaecologists and women volunteers,” he added.