14 July 2017

UNICEF and Khuvsgul province spreading good practices on MHM


New latrines for girls
©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/AmarsanaaJ
In the beginning of July 2016, a pleasant surprise was awaiting girls, who came to “Uran Dush” Summer Camp from different parts of Khuvsgul Aimag (Province) as well as other parts of Mongolia. Located in some 20 km from the Provincial Center, Uran Dush is the biggest and most popular summer camp in Khuvsgul Aimag. The “surprise” was brand new latrines for girls, built in a few meters distance from the old wooden latrines, which seemed to have been there for ages and looked as if they might collapse any time.

For Nomindalai, 17 years old girl from Murun Dalaivan School the new latrines were not a surprise, as she saw them being constructed during her earlier visit to the Camp in June. Like in June, Nomindalai came again to the Camp along with five other peer educators to facilitate a 2-day training session for adolescents. The sessions covered Adolescent Reproductive Health issues and Menstrual Hygiene. The training was organized by Aimag Health Department as part of WASH and Adolescent Participation programmes and was funded by UNICEF MHM project.

Nomindalai and her friend Tegshjargal, also a peer educator, were excited to use the new latrines. They observed that the latrines had a spacious corridor with handwashing places, 5 separate units with locks inside the doors, a hanger for bags or coats, a shelf for napkins or cell phones, a toilet paper roll and a rubbish bin. Unlike the old toilet, the new one was clean and tidy, with no flies around, no bad smell in the air and no rubbish thrown on the floor.

“None of the doors in the old latrine had locks and even a door was missing completely on one unit. During menstruation, it was very difficult. Often, we had to ask a friend to go to toilet together to guard the door. Now we feel happy to have such a comfortable and clean toilet” says Tegshjargal with excitement. All the other girls, staying at the Summer Camp were very pleased with the new latrines.

According to Tegshjargal and Nomindalai, boys found it unfair that new toilets were built only for girls, while the boys had to use the old and dirty ones. The boys even requested the Camp management to build the same nice latrines for them next year.

Old latrines, which were in extremely poor conditions.
©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/AmarsanaaJ

The plank was placed to prevent it from falling.
©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/AmarsanaaJ
Mrs. Amarsanaa, Adolescent Health Counselor of the Aimag Health Department highlithed “It was extremely important that the new latrines provided a comfortable space for girls, especially those, who are menstruating. Now our girls can change napkins in privacy, without worrying about open doors, and wash their hands after using the toilet. In addition, the emergency supply of napkins, placed on shelves inside the toilets was something, the girls had never seen in their school or dormitory toilets.”

Nomindalai and Tegshjargal, both final year students in highschool, have been active members of Health club for the last 5 years. Nomindalai wants to become a doctor in the future. Supported by Dr. Oyuntsetseg, Aimag Adolescent Health Doctor and Mrs. Amarsanaa, they have conducted many peer education trainings on various health and hygiene subjects.
Tegshjargal T. and Nomindalai B. from Murun, Khuvsgul
©UNICEF Mongolia/2017/MungunkhishigB
“This year, we visited Uran Dush Camp several times during different shifts to conduct peer education trainings. Our trainings were received very positively by adolescents, both girls and boys. We distributed to adolescents leaflets on MHM we produced ourselves and kids seemed to like it a lot” says Tegshjargal.

Another exciting event for the girls was their participation in the Regional Children’s Forum, conducted in October 2016 in Bayankhongor Aimag. A team of 6 children and 5 adults represented Khuvsgul aimag in the Forum. It was a good experience for them to learn from others and share about their experience as well.

UNICEF staff made a presentation on the MHM Study and its findings, which attracted lots of interest among the officials and young people. Nomindalai followed the UNICEF presentation to talk about pilot activities in Khuvsgul aimag supported by the UNICEF MHM project.

Being UNICEF’s focus area for 2012-2016 Country Programme, Khuvsgul Aimag had the privilige to implement pilot initiatives by UNICEF to improve MHM situation for girls. In 2015, a Study on MHM situation in Mongolia was conducted by CSWE NGO with support from Emory University as part of the Canadian Government supported Wins4Girs Project.
Tegshjargal T. and Nomindalai B.at the Forum in Bayankhongor
©UNICEF Mongolia/2015/OdgerelM
Poor knowledge on MHM among adolescent girls was one of the challenges identified by the Study. Therefore, UNICEF supported Khuvsgul Health Department in developing communication materials for girls and the peer education training sessions.

Lack of girls friendly WASH facilites was one of the biggest areas of concern. Again, as a pilot initiative, UNICEF supported reconstruction of Girls latrines in the biggest Children’s Summer camp in Khuvsgul, which receives around 2,000 children each summer from various areas of Khuvsgul and Mongolia. The model Girls Latrines were highly appreciated by Khuvsgul authorities and adolescents. Based on this pilot initiative, UNICEF went on to support establishment of Girls Dignity Rooms/corners at several rural schools and dormitories across Khuvsgul province.

UNICEF and the Family, Child and Youth Development Agency decided to share this good experience with other aimags at the Regional Children’s Forum attended by officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, World Vision Mongolia, local officials from 6 provinces and representatives of children and young people.

One of the results of the Regional Children’s Forum was that the participating children, both girls and boys were very much excited by what they have heard and learned in the session on MHM. “Children’s working group of the forum came up with hands on recommendations for the governor’s offices, education departments to promote the implementation of the girls friendly WASH facilities and Khuvsgul experience in real. They appealed the child led organisations to play active roles in monitoring the MHM standards are implemented in all schools. They promised that they would continue working on improving the facilities, as well as knowledge and skills of children on MHM and promised to start working on this in their own schools” says Mrs.B.Uranchimeg, UNICEF MHM Consultant.
UNICEF MHM Consultant presenting at the Forum.
©UNICEF Mongolia/2015/OdgerelM
MHM was, in fact, a totally new topic that was never on the agenda of Regional Children’s Forum before. This time, it was even included in the Forum Recommendations adopted by the participants, where the participating Aimags committed themselves to improving MHM knowledge of adolescents, parents, teachers and school staff and improving WASH facilities of schools and dormitories to meet the needs of girls and boys.

Motivated by MHM discussions and presentations at the Forum, Mrs. Mendbayar, the Director of Bayankhongor Province Family, Child and Youth Development Agency, who hosted the Forum at its Summer Camp, announced her decision to build new latrines in the Camp before next summer, following the good example of Khuvsgul Aimag.


Author:
Odgerel Myagmar
UNICEF C4D Officer, UNICEF Mongolia

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