What else do you know about bananas apart from the fact that they are edible and that their stems are feed for livestock? At the 4th Annual International Research Contest held at Kabarak University, two ingenious students from the same institution came up with an innovation that will even wow our neighbours in the land of bananas up yonder.
Still wondering what it is? Let us get to the story of sanitary pads from banana fibre. Who would have thought of that? The innovation makes you think they have completely gone bananas. But wait, you are right! Literally speaking.
Having seen the challenges that women and young girls from needy backgrounds go through because they cannot afford sanitary towels, they came up with a cheaper alternative for them. Banana stems have fibre which they say, can be processed and turned into soft tissue which is used to make the sanitary pads.
Paul Ntikoisa and Ivy Etemesi are the two brains behind this innovation that is already generating interest from community based groups. They take us through the steps of extracting the fibres from the banana stem. It is a simple process that involves pounding the luscious stem to remove water and then the remaining pulp is spread out and dried in the sun to dry for about six hours.
“Banana fibre poses no health risks,” Ivy Etemesi says. “But before use, the fibres have to be disinfected to kill any micro-organisms that may be present or were picked up during the preparation process,” she continues to say.
After disinfecting, the fibres are then laid out on a wooden surface and trimmed. The fibres are arranged in strips to ensure comfort to the user. Absorbent soft liners are used to ensure the pad’s surface is soft. A mackintosh paper is woven over the prepared layer woven using thread and needle.
“Stitching of the mackintosh paper is done, leaving the wings where cello tape is used to firm the pad to avoid movement of the pad during flow,” says Etemesi.
The duo have conducted tests and proven that the innovation works. They have good absorption properties. Each pad is expected to retail at Ksh 6, a price that the less fortunate girls and women in society can afford.
For a long time, the African culture has viewed menstruation as a taboo and a woman in her periods is shunned. Many school going girls from poor backgrounds miss school during their menstrual period and this innovation is going to address that issue.
They urged the government to embrace their innovation and roll it out to areas where they are needed most. This will improve the hygiene conditions of the school going girls and enable them to attend school like everyone else.
With their innovation,they came tops in the innovation category during the Annual International Research Contest held at Kabarak University.
As we gear up for Sondeka Festival to be held in October 18th-20th at the Ngong’ Race Course, we encourage you to interact with us on facebook and talk about such great Kenyan talent. Sondeka festival celebrates Kenyan creativity, innovation and talent and is brought to you by Creatives Garage.