Eco-Friendly Sanitary Pads for African Girls

MakaPads are low-cost sanitary pads made from papyrusand paper waste designed for young women and girls in central and west Africa.

Design Without Borders Uganda and Technology 4 Tomorrow have created MakaPads, a low-cost sanitary pad designed for women and girls in central and west Africa. MakaPads are made from local papyrus and paper waste and are 95% biodegradable. To create the pads, the papyrus and paper fibers are beaten, dried, and softened in a process requiring very little electricity; the little electricity needed is provided via solar panels.
Designed to help young girls remain in school during their periods, the pads are more absorbent and cost 50% less than typical imported sanitary pads. Aside from their environmental sustainability and facilitation of girls’ education, MakaPads are manufactured locally, providing employment opportunities, primarily to women, in the local community.

Relevance of solution

One in 10 school-age African girls do not attend school during menstruation.1 This causes girls to lag behind in their education, and oftentimes, drop out of school entirely, which has negative long-term consequences for economic development and gender equality. MakaPads plays an important role in addressing these challenges and offering girls a low-cost way to stay in school all month long.

Triple Bottom Line


Rather than being bleached and treated with chemicals for sterilization like most typical sanitary pads, MakaPads are exposed to ultraviolet light, which kills bacteria and germs.


MakaPads help girls overcome the social taboos of getting their period, allowing them to feel confident and remain in school.


Priced at $0.10 per pad, MakaPads are more affordable than typical sanitary pads, making them more accessible for young girls in Africa.


  1. UNESCO. “Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene Management.” (2014)