Adolescent girls face significant challenges while menstruating. In Nepal, menstruation management is made more difficult in contexts where girls have limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and in places where they are unable to access adequate sanitary napkins because of financial or supply issues in rural areas.

‘Formative Research on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Nepal’ is a five-month project implemented by HERD International with the support from WaterAid and Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH). This research aims to investigate and understand the scope of challenges faced by girls during menstruation (mainly at school but also in the community or household) and understand the determinants of those challenges and identify potential solutions and recommendations.

A debriefing session was organized on March 10 at HERD International office with the motive of sharing the experience of the field researchers. They were just back from the field after completing their data collection. Machhindra Basnet, project coordinator and Qualitative Research Officer at HERD International referred the debriefing session as a learning platform, as the participants and the facilitators shared their learning. She said, “The debriefing session is organized for us to have an interaction with the field researchers in order to understand their experience being involved in this project”. During the session, the field researchers shared field experience, achievements, challenges and learning.

Six field researchers completed the data collection in 38 days. The data collection was carried out in Sindhuli and Udayapur. They made presentation about the study sites, field implementation process, consent form distribution process, major field issues, challenges, dealing and recommendation. They also shared stories about interesting events and what they observed.

Sony Gurung, field researcher said, “During the data collection, we met all kinds of people both friendly and unfriendly. At times we became so blank that we didn’t know how to react. We even heard many negative comments during the process of data collection. However, we continued our tasks.”

Sandhya Chaulagain, WaterAid representative appreciated the field researchers for the successful data collection despite numerous challenges. She said, “The data that you all have collected carries a lot of importance. The report which will be prepared using the collected data will guide us to give a situation of menstrual health management in Nepal through this formative research – though might not be entirely representative.”

Munna Lama, another field researcher shared a strange experience, “While we were at Sindhuli, Kyaneswar VDC we had to go to a school by crossing a river (Kyan Khola). When I returned after completing the work, I started feeling unwell and weak.  I was not able to do any of the work. Then the women at the shelter home asked me if I had crossed the river today. I replied “yes” and then she asked I we worshipped it before crossing it. We replied “no”. Then she said that there is ritual that everyone worships the river and put money before crossing it and since we did not do that, we were unwell. We were really shocked and didn’t know what to do. She asked her husband to apply some traditional healing methods and suddenly after a while, I became all right. It was quite a strange experience. Then the very next day, all three of us went to the river and worshipped it.”

Likewise, Manju KC, another field researcher shared, “There were some female respondents in one of the VDCs of Udayapur district who didn’t use sanitary pads due to various economic reasons. To purchase sanitary pads, they had to travel for about 1 hour from their village in local transportation which was so high that the amount was enough for several months. So the girls preferred to use old cloth pieces during menstruation instead of buying pads.”

Post the data collection, now the HERD team is engaged in analyzing the collected data. Rigorous analysis processes are followed to ensure that the study findings are well documented in the final report.

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