NAIROBI, Nov 16 (IPS) – ’Going Inexperienced’ turns out to Dr Jacquline Kisato’s favourite catchphrase as she passionately explains her eco-friendly sanitary towel, a product she expects will lend a hand empower ladies and younger women whilst additionally hanging cash into farmers’ wallet.
Kisato is a lecturer on the Kenyatta College (KU), Style Design and Advertising and marketing, these days operating on a challenge to increase inexpensive and eco-friendly sanitary towels whilst additionally discovering an answer for sustainable packaging fabrics.
Kisato’s undertaking began out to lend a hand communities get a supply of employment throughout the commercialization of banana stems – merchandise that have been regarded as pointless by way of farmers and would in most cases be left to rot away on farms.
After the Kenyan executive enforced a ban on using plastic luggage in 2018, there was once a want to to find instant choices.
Plastic luggage have been a need for grocers and fast-food distributors, an merchandise that made it simple for purchasers to hold their items house. In spite of their merit, then again, their detrimental have an effect on at the surroundings may just now not be lost sight of.
‘’I began taking a look at this challenge from an entrepreneurship standpoint on how I may just commercialize banana stem fibers. The federal government had simply banned single-use plastic luggage, and marketplace distributors wanted choices to serve their shoppers,’’ Kisato informed IPS.
‘’Poorly disposed sanitary towels additionally shaped a part of the air pollution downside since they have been composed of plastic,’’ she added.
In step with Kisato, then again, her want to empower ladies and younger women thru inexpensive sanitary towels was once one thing that she at all times had in thoughts after noticing the struggles that school-going women went thru.
‘’Whilst strolling alongside the hallways in the future, a pupil on campus stopped me and requested if I may just lend a hand her with a packet of sanitary pads. This incident stunned me as for a very long time, I had assumed ‘length poverty’ was once simplest skilled among highschool kids,’’ Kisato mentioned.
Kisato and her analysis crew interviewed 400 highschool women from Gatundi, Kibera, and Kawangware, the place they came upon that greater than 50 % of the women in those low-income spaces may just hardly ever come up with the money for sanitary pads even if at house.
This didn’t sit down smartly with the don as she felt one thing had to be finished about it.
It was once whilst researching choices to plastic luggage that she learned that she may just resolve two issues on the identical time.
Kisato, subsequently, implemented for the Nationwide Analysis Fund (NRF) in 2018 with the purpose of growing eco-friendly plastic luggage and sanitary towels. Her want got here thru when NRF granted Kenyatta College Ksh.9 million (about US $ 61,623) in 2020, together with her taking the lead because the major investigator within the challenge.
Her crew is made up of students from other departments and establishments and likewise comprises Ph.D. and grasp’s scholars, with each and every one among them taking part in a big function in seeing the challenge thru.
‘’I lead a crew of engineers from the Kenya Commercial Analysis and Construction Institute (KIRDI), whose job is to opposite engineer machines that may extract fiber from banana stems and use them to create eco-friendly packaging and sanitary towels,’’ she defined. “I even have researchers from Moi College whose paintings was once to show the extracted fiber into cushy fabrics to be used.”
Kisato’s purpose was once to supply high quality sanitary towels that might compete with what was once already available in the market whilst nonetheless being eco-friendly, a proven fact that led her to hunt the experience of Edwin Madivoli, a chemistry lecturer on the Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Era (JKUAT).
In step with Kisato, the towels available on the market have an element in them referred to as hydrogel, which permits them to retain fluids for longer, and have been additionally coated with plastic sheets to stop any leakage. Our goal is to copy the similar however use bioplastic fabrics, which is able to degrade versus the standard plastic this is getting used.
From her analysis, Kisato additionally came upon that Africans, on reasonable, wore sanitary towels for longer as in comparison to girls and women from advanced nations and have been thus prone to getting bacterial infections. This was once because of restricted get right of entry to and affordability in Africa.
‘’The beneficial length for one to have on a sanitary pad is ready 3 hours, this means that that it must be modified a minimum of thrice an afternoon to keep away from any possibility of infections. That is, then again, now not the case for plenty of women in Africa because of poverty,’’ Kisato defined to IPS.
‘’We idea including anti-microbial homes to our product would subsequently make it as just right and even higher than what was once available in the market,’’ mentioned Kisato.
The analysis crew additionally came upon that there have been a large number of myths surrounding menstrual float amongst younger women, a proven fact that resulted in a large number of stigmatization, which made it tough for them to know the way to make use of sanitary towels correctly.
Probably the most notable concepts that women informed each and every different regarding menstrual float integrated:
- This is a curse from God
- Ladies who had sessions have been regarded as grimy and impure
- Their faces would turn out to be light from shedding blood
‘’Those are ideals that want to be finished away with by way of encouraging folks and the federal government to talk about per month sessions with younger women brazenly,’’ Kisato mentioned.
For the second one segment of the challenge, Madivoli’s chemistry experience got here in to hand, and the Analysis Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) was once glad so as to add an extra Ksh.9 million (about USD 59,000) for Kisato to proceed what she had began.
‘’My function is to make sure our sanitary pads are of the similar high quality as what’s available in the market whilst on the identical time keeping up an eco-friendly nature, which is the principle time table of this complete challenge,’’ Madivoli informed IPS.
‘’I’m tasked with the advance of hydrogels, manufacturing of bioplastics, and discovering a solution to incorporate anti-microbial homes into our merchandise to offer protection to the customers from imaginable infections,’’ he mentioned.
JKUAT won investment of Ksh.800,000 (about US $ 5477) from the Kenya Nationwide Innovation Company (KENIA) to additional lend a hand Madivoli with this analysis.
“As they’re left to dry up at the farms, banana stems are recognized to supply massive quantities of methane, which is a dangerous greenhouse fuel that contributes to the local weather trade issues that we’re looking to take on, added Madivoli. ‘”Having another use for the stems subsequently limits the greenhouse impact within the environment.’’
Madivoli mentioned that almost all banana farmers in most cases have no idea what to do with the stems as soon as they have got finished their harvest, and this challenge provides them a solution to earn some additional revenue as they be expecting to shop for the stems from them at Ksh.35 in step with stem.
“This challenge is not going to simplest be environmentally pleasant however may also create jobs for the individuals who cross to chop the stems from the farms whilst additionally discovering use for the biomass that the farmers idea was once pointless,’’ he concluded.
As soon as it’s up and operating, they be expecting to supply banana stems from counties reminiscent of Kisii, Muranga, Embu, Meru, and portions of western Kenya.
Stephany Musombi is one among Kisato’s scholars focusing on textiles whose job within the challenge is to get a hold of high quality packaging fabrics.
‘’Except for the banana fiber, I’m additionally experimenting with different biomass reminiscent of pineapple and seaweed,’’ Musombi informed IPS. If I will have the option to make this paintings, the challenge will open up a marketplace for seaweed and pineapple biomass.
Kisato’s challenge may just now not have picked a greater time there’s a global joint push for inexperienced answers to lend a hand mitigate local weather trade. On September 4, 2023, Kenya additionally performed host to the local weather summit that attracted leaders from throughout Africa.
Kenya’s president, William Ruto, drove himself in a tiny electrical automobile to the Kenyatta Global Conference Centre (KICC), the place he challenged the African leaders and innovators to seek out sustainable answers to their day by day actions that may lend a hand them scale back the carbon print within the continent and globally.
‘’Africa can energy all power wishes with renewable sources. The continent has sufficient doable to be completely self-sufficient the use of wind, sun, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and hydropower power. Africa generally is a inexperienced business hub that is helping different areas succeed in their web 0 methods by way of 2050,’’ Ruto mentioned on the summit.
Kisato expects her product to hit the marketplace later this yr, the place she plans to make it extra inexpensive for all. Her goal is to crew up with startups or established corporations that maintain toiletries.
‘’The most cost effective sanitary packet available in the market prices Ksh.140. We predict ours to head as little as Ksh.100, Kisato,’’ concluded.
Kenyatta College’s Vice Chancellor, Paul Wainaina, lauded the challenge, mentioning that it’s going to permit the rustic to satisfy its business wishes whilst retaining the surroundings.
IPS UN Bureau Document
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