Wanida demonstrating how to use the nappy in the Maternity ward

Babies at the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) are now the recipients of 150 reusable newborn nappy packs from Mamma’s Laef each week.

Mary Kalsrap, co-owner of Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu (MLV) said a newborn baby may need 16 nappies each day and single use disposable diapers make up 27 per cent of the nation’s rubbish. She said 7,000,000 disposable diapers can easily be used every year in Vanuatu when more than 8,000 babies are born each year.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives have supported other initiatives of MLV in 2019 and 2020, and have this year funded a project to gift 150 reusable newborn nappy packs to families at Vila Central Hospital.

High Commissioner for Canada in Australia, Mark Glauser, said the Government of Canada is proud to partner with Mamma’s Laef and support this initiative in Vanuatu.

“Mamma’s Laef has carried out important work over the past three years,” he said.

“We are pleased to be able to support this project, which provides families with essential and sustainable resources. The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives supports local organizations in advancing critical work in their communities. This includes advancing environmental priorities and gender equality. This partnership is a clear demonstration of this commitment, and we are pleased to see such positive outcomes.”

With the pending disposable diaper ban, MLV has a goal to provide all newborn babies with Vanuatu made reusable baby nappies. This will help parents in the transition to the sole use or mixed use of reusables and disposables. In these difficult times with many families having reduced incomes due to covid pandemic border closures, reusable baby nappies make for savings of vatu for families.

Last year’s pilot held in Eton, Eratap and Pango villages on Efate was jointly led by Bambino Mio of United Kingdom, Savvy Vanuatu and Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu. It concluded that if there were access to reusable nappies and 85% families would buy the products. However, a barrier was the initial vatu needed to purchase a pack of modern reusable nappies.

Mrs. Kalsrap said this project is a way of testing the willingness and commitment of families to start using reusables for their babies.

“We have employed 12 staff to manufacture and distribute these packs at VCH, we will be offering the packs to 150 mothers,” she said.

“We operate as a Social Enterprise. The best way I can explain is it’s little bit like a marriage of charity and business. It’s a blend of doing social good and developing over time, a sustainable business. We started in 2015, and have gradually been learning new skills and developing ourselves and our staff, to become totally sustainable. We are fortunate to have the long-term support of Mamma’s Laef Charitable Trust in New Zealand, which has guided us and who organized this funding.”

Mrs. Kalsrap said their mission is to support women to take control of their lives, and they do that by manufacturing reusable personal hygiene products, distributing them to those that need them, while helping to develop the Vanuatu economy by employing locals.

Jack Kalsrap who co-owns the business with said they see this fund as an opportunity to showcase other Vanuatu made products such as the 300 Coconut Bags which hold the nappy packs, Vanua Soap and Le Coco Cosmetics powder soap, for washing our products.

MLV has another project in the pipeline, where they will be able to supply more of their newborn baby nappy packs in another hospital in the coming months.