The use of innovative methods to reach remote communities is proving to be effective in improving family planning in Kenya. Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT), a Kenyan-based organization, has been using camels and boats to reach hard-to-reach areas and train women on family planning methods and economic sustainability. These methods have proven to be successful, with over sixty thousand women trained on contraceptive methods and forty thousand indigenous women prioritizing three to five year planning methods.
However, cultural and religious beliefs have posed a challenge in some indigenous pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya. As a Muslim community, family planning is not familiar to them, and men are the key decision-makers on family planning. This has led to an increase in poverty, teenage pregnancy, and early marriages among these communities. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2022 Demographic and Health Survey shows that there is a high unmet need for family planning in some counties in Northern Kenya and the Nyanza region.
CHAT has been working to sensitize residents on the need to use contraceptives and seek alternative sources of livelihoods to reduce poverty and teenage pregnancy. Community health volunteers have been trained to advocate for family planning and link women to the nearest health facilities. With intensified efforts on sensitizing women about family planning, they are now embracing it and seeking long-term methods.
However, religion remains a major setback on family planning among residents, and CHAT is determined to win this war. Lucy Musyoka, a community health volunteer, notes that traditional family planning methods need to be shunned for prosperity. She trains people on SGBV advocacy and links women with the nearest health facilities to access family planning services. She appeals for an adequate supply of contraceptives from the government to ensure that constituents do not suffer due to the lack of family planning commodities.
CHAT program manager Ms. Rose Kimanzi notes that they are committed to providing health services, especially family planning, to vulnerable rural communities that are hard to reach due to bad roads. They use camel strategy, boat, and backpack mobile clinics to visit each family in need of family planning services and create awareness on embracing modern family planning methods.
The government is committed to working with other key stakeholders on ending early teenage pregnancies in the country. The Laikipia East Assistant County Commissioner Kimberly Champagne notes that they have equipped community leaders with policy skills about SGBV, risk factors, and support systems for victims. They have also set up facilities to support SGBV victims and urged residents to take advantage of them.