Synthetic sanitary pad-free Muhamma, a project jointly implemented by Muhamma grama panchayat in Alappuzha and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), which helped achieve better menstrual health and a cleaner environment in the local body, is vying for top prizes at Solution Search, a global crowdsourcing contest powered by Rare, a U.S.-based environmental organisation.
This year’s Solution Search contest facilitated by Rare’s Centre for Behaviour and the Environment focuses on unearthing existing and successful solutions that are reducing water pollution by changing behaviours.
Synthetic sanitary pad-free Muhamma project is among the 10 finalists chosen from 100 submissions across 33 countries. It is the only solution from Kerala and one of the two from India to find a place in the shortlist and will be eligible for accolades including two $25,000 prizes – the Judges’ Prize, which is determined by a panel of experts and the People’s Choice award, the latter selected through public voting.
Muhamma, situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, which was declared a synthetic pad-free village in November 2020, made this achievement through intense awareness campaigns, encouraging women to switch to reusable pads along with distributing pads made of clothes and menstrual cups.
Reema Anand, senior programme officer, ATREE says the major objective of the initiative was to address the ground and lake water pollution and women’s health issues caused by single-use synthetic sanitary napkins.
“Prior to the implementation of the project, about one lakh synthetic sanitary pads were disposed of in the ecosystem every month, polluting ground and lake water in Muhamma. The project has helped reduce water pollution from menstrual wastes which were impacting the water bodies and public health. Further, reduction in menstrual waste is expected to improve the ecosystem health of the Vembanad Ramsar site,” says Ms. Anand.
According to her, a post-intervention survey conducted by the State Health Department revealed that the initiative has improved health and hygiene among women.
ATREE is a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation.
The Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), had financially supported the project through its CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities.