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Hoffmann research underway in Africa and India

Prof. Hoffmann's teams are about half way through a two-year program

Faculty Associate Dr. Vivian Hoffmann began work last year on an ambitious research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation entitled, "Menstrual Management and Sanitation Systems." The project was designed to take stock of current knowledge about women’s menstrual management practices and how these practices interact with sanitation systems in the developing world; to evaluate the potential size of the global market for menstrual management products; and to conduct case studies in a number of locations.

Two study sites have been selected: Durban, South Africa was chosen for the diversity of sanitation systems serving the urban and peri-urban poor. Informal settlements in Durban are served by communal toilet and shower facilities, while urine-diverting dry toilets have been installed in peri-urban areas. More traditional systems of pit latrines and private flush toilets are also present in rural areas and government-provided housing. The Durban site affords us the opportunity to study how women’s menstrual management practices and disposal of products interact with each of the sanitation systems represented.

The second site is a rural area in the Indian state of Bihar. Bihar is among the poorest and least developed of India’s states. Data from our baseline survey shows that use of purchased disposable menstrual products in this setting is currently very low. However due to both private sector and government promotion of menstrual products, the use of disposable pads is expected to increase rapidly in the future. In this setting, we are studying how experience with disposable menstrual products affects women’s demand for an alternative, reusable product, the menstrual cup.