Makerere lecturer wins award for sanitary pads
Posted Friday, November 1 2013 at 02:00
It is 10 years since Dr Moses Kiiza Musaazi debuted his innovation—the makapads—as part of a research project aimed at relieving the burden poor girls face in accessing sanitary pads.
After starting the manufacturing of the biodegradable pads in 2004 following a call by the Rockfeller Foundation, the project received wide acclaim for its technology and cost, starting at just Shs900, compared to Shs2500 for the cheapest artificial pad.
The project now produces at least five million pads a year.
The Makerere University professor on Wednesday evening shared a platform with 22 international innovators at the Siemens Stiftung Global Innovations Award in Nairobi.
He bagged second place and a cash price of 30,000 Euros (about Sh103 million) for the prize dubbed; ‘Empowering People Award.’
“My challenge was to produce a locally-made pad suitable for the poor girls and also employing poor people, particularly women, to make it,” said Dr Musaazi, shortly after receiving the award. “But the biggest motivation was to design a product that is biodegradable compared to the artificial pads.”
Asked how he intends to use the prize money, the technology guru was quick to say he would plough it back into the project since it is not for profit making.
“The first thing we are going to do is to make sure that these pads are 100 per cent biodegradable. We are going to remove the cavera which is non-biodegradable, before we embark on an expansion drive,” he said.
Dr Peter Ngatia of AMREF, who was a member of the jury, said the pads have reduced absenteeism in schools, and restored the dignity of most poor women in Uganda.
“The makapad will go a long way in supporting those disadvantaged at the bottom of the society,” he said.
If it was not for the worldwide challenge of blindness, which affects 150 million, and the prohibitive cost of eye glasses, the makapads could have easily carried the day.
That is why the OneDollarGlasses project, an initiative by Martin Aufmuth, a German, producing eye glasses using simple technology locally at just a dollar (about ShS2500), won the overall prize. The cheapest glass costs upwards of Sh40,000 in the market.
It was piloted in Rwanda and is currently planning to roll out to more African countries.
The panel said the project is a welcome relief for the world’s poor who are faced with numerous eye defects.
Briton David Osborne came third with his Jompy water boiler, which allows household to cook and at the same time boil drinking water using the same fuel source.