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On 26 November 2020 UNFPA donated and offically handed over sanitary dignity products to young girls in rural communities, who were reportedly missing school due to the unavailability of sanitary dignity products. The House of Traditional Leaders, as an institution of gatekeepers in rural communities, play a pivotal role in ensuring that developmental issues affecting their communities are addressed and support provided to those left furthest behind rendered. 


The programme director, Nkosi Ngwekazi, started the proceedings, acknowledging UNFPA’s commitment in supporting the Government of South Africa and in bettering the lives of women, girls and youth. Providing warm words of welcome to the traditional leaders and officials in attendance, Noksi Lebenya, stated that the donation presented an opportunity for rural communities to benefit substantially, as they would be distributing the sanitary dignity products to marginalised girls, both at local schools and those out of school within the communities.


Expanding on the partnership, UNFPA Representative, expressed her sincere gratitude for the great working relations the House of Traditional Leaders and UNFPA have maintained. She shared that the donation comes through funding from Global Affairs Canada, who are supporting a joint UNFPA/ UNICEF programme, and that is being implemented in OR Tambo district and Nelson Mandela metro in the Eastern Cape. She further suggested that the programme sought to strengthen civil society and community mobilisation to eliminate discriminatory gender practices and other harmful practises. She noted that traditional leaders are therefore key partners in this endeavour.


UNFPA handing over PPEs and sanitary products




Representing the Resident Coordinator, Head of the Resident Coordinator’s office, Mr. Msingathi Sipuka, spoke of the role of the UN in responding to the needs of communities in need. He reiterated the importance of partnerships and that of stakeholders coming together to ensure rural communities are not left behind.


Nkosi Mavuso spoke of the role of traditional leaders in working with UNFPA. He noted that attending the ICPD@25 Summit in Nairobi in 2019 exposed him to programmes he would like initiated in the province. Of priority were interventions in relation to Menstrual Health Management, as this was key to ensuring adolescent girls and young women stay in school. He also sharply raised the issue of teenage pregnancy on the rise in some parts of the Eastern Cape and requested UNFPA’s support in addressing this phenomenon.


Appreciating the partnership, in his keynote address, the Honourable Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC, Mr. Xolile Nqatha, said the donation would serve as a catalyst towards a long term partnership between UNFPA and COGTA in improving the lives of the poor in rural communities. The MEC said the goods are destined for the two hundred and thirty-nine (239) Traditional Councils in the Eastern Cape province (to benefit communities as a safety measure for the initiation monitoring teams).


Vote of thanks was followed by Nkosi Makaula from Alfred Nzo district who hailed the efforts of UNFPA, noting the advances and strides made in the implementation of the Integrated School Health Programme in Nzululwazi Secondary School in Mount Frere. Overall the mission ensured strengthened collaboration with the Eastern Cape Provincial House of Traditional Leaders and by donating the sanitary products, young girls will not be further left behind!