Habiba…A family planning success story
By Hellen Ekisa & Mary Khangai
Habiba, a 25 years old mother of six is a resident of Lagboghol village in Wajir County. Habiba had all her six children within a span of eight years at a time when she knew nothing about child spacing. Her youngest child aged one year is currently enrolled in a therapeutic feeding programme at Lagboghol dispensary. According to Oscar Muriithi, the nurse at Lagboghol dispensary, short intervals between the births of her children has caused Habiba to be susceptible to disease and lowered her immunity.
Habiba is one among many community members who have been reached by the DFID funded ESHE project which is implemented through a consortium led by Palladium Group. Save the Children is the lead implementing partner in Wajir. Habiba has now embraced child spacing and is using a modern contraceptive method.
Embracing child spacing
I have six children and my husband has no job to support a big family. I was listening to the radio and heard our religious leaders encouraging us to space our children. I heard about the injection as one of the methods for child spacing. I saw the need to plan my family because I come from a poor background. When I came to hospital I asked for the injection,” says Habiba
Habiba explains that she enrolled for family planning when her youngest baby was five months old. She says: “Before embracing the modern method, I used to get pregnant every eighth month after delivery. I am sure I will now take a break of two years or more. This will help me to take care of this baby and I am hoping to get even healthier.”
Oscar Muriithi, the facility nurse says: “Family planning uptake has improved since Save the Children began supporting social mobilization. From the beginning, we had zero family planning clients but now we have at least 20 clients who have been enrolled on various methods. Since joining this health facility in May 2016, I am not fully contented because I want to reach more people. However, the current uptake is encouraging and we are getting there.”
Habiba says she has never experienced any challenges with the method she chose. She was however later counselled on all the other available methods by the facility nurse but she opted to continue with the injection.
“Our Sheikhs have talked to us about the importance of child spacing. They have even held barazas here in our village explaining to us everything according to our religion. Now we are sure that we are not going against our religion when we accept these child spacing methods.”
“Family planning knowledge used to be very low as the community thought the health workers were against them having children. Now with social mobilization, knowledge has increased and people have slowly begun treating family planning as a priority. I thank Save the Children for coming through. We are now able to reach out to the community and we are observing some changes,” says Muriithi
Located in the north-eastern part of Kenya, Wajir County is among the fifteen counties in Kenya with the highest mortality rates for mothers and their children. The county is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Somalis with Islam being the dominant religion.
According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, only 2% of women in Wajir County were reported to be using family planning methods. This is largely attributed to the social cultural barriers surrounding the use of modern contraceptive methods in Islamic settings. .
Under the DFID sponsored ESHE programme led by Palladium, Save the Children is working with renowned Islamic religious scholars in the county to address the barriers to child spacing. The strategy seeks to create demand for contraceptives through social mobilization using religious leaders. The project has trained 1000 religious leaders who support open forums to discuss issues related to child spacing.
Since January 2014, the programme has reached more than 73,085 adults including approximately 1330 adolescent mothers in Wajir County.