By Comfort Mussa
When I first got my period, all I knew about was the standard disposable pads. I experimented with different brands into my adulthood. Growing up, I spent most of my vacations visiting my grandmother (of blessed memory) in our beautiful village -Nkambe. During the visits , I learnt more about the everyday realities of women in Nkambe. Amongst other things, I learnt about the social taboos related to menstruation and the culture of silence that surrounds menstruation.
In Nkambe and around Cameroon, poverty limits many girls from accessing disposable sanitary ware and towels. It is very common for women, especially in rural areas, to cut pieces of their cloths and use as pads during their menses. Those who can afford it, use toilet tissue or disposable pads.
In December 2015, for the first time, I saw cloth pads on sale in Cameroon by Kamerpad. I got in touch with Mme Olivia Mvondo Boum II the CEO of the company to find out more about the product.
Q:When were the washable sanitary pads FAM first introduced in Cameroon?
A:The washable sanitary pads FAM have been in Cameroon since 2013
Q;Who is the primary target for this product and why this target population?
Indeed we aim to improve girl’s education by providing pads that allowed them to keep going to school during their menstruation.
Q:Do you use the washable sanitary pads ? Can you share your experience with us?
A;Yes, initially I was using them as pads during my periods and they were so comfortable and soft that I have decided to use them as panty liners too.
Q:The cost of sanitary ware and towels is still beyond the reach of many young women and girls. The average cost for a packet of disposable pads in Cameroon is, 600 XAF. FAM is sold at 3000 XAF. How reasonable is this price?
A:The average cost of disposable pad is 600 XAF per packet that’s goes up to 14400 XAF for a period of 2 years. For the same period of time, the washable sanitary pads FAM will cost only 3000 XAF.
Moreover, those cheap disposable pads are of poor quality and may cause some diseases while the good quality cost 3000 XAF which is the cost for FAM for 2 years.
Q:What advantage does reusable pad have over disposable pads?
A: As I said before, the first advantage is the cost. Secondly, it is more comfortable than the disposable one. Last but not the least the FAM contributes to the protection of our environment.As you may know 45 billion of disposable pads are used every year and generate a huge amount of waste.
Q:It sounds like you have to change the reusable pads more often. This can be a serious problem for users. What is your take on this?
The girls need to change the washable pads as often as the disposable one; therefore we provide a nice and colorful bag where the used pad can be kept before reaching home.
Q: With the constant water crisis in Cameroon, will having to launder cloth pads not pose as an extra burden?
A:It is true that water is a big issue in Cameroon as in many African countries.
However, women have to wash their underwear so they will also wash their pads.We believe that there is no price for health.
Q:Advocates for reusable pads say, reusable pads are more environmentally friendly than disposable pads. What is Kamerpad produced from?
A:The pads are made of 100% cotton that is good for the environment and also for the women’s bodies.
Q:Kamerpad has received some international honors and awards. Tell us about the most recent two
Most recently we were recognized by SIGEF in Geneva (Switzerland), la France s’engage au Sud by French President François Hollande and the last one by Madiba Award for “Living together”.
The most interesting is that each award acknowledges a different aspect of our initiative. Women empowerment for some, education of girls, protection of environment but also how our project could contribute to a better life of women and therefore positively impact on the growth of our continent.
Have you ever used cloth pads? Please, share your experience.