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2 March 2022 - News


Abass Abdi Ibrahim, a beneficiary of the male barazas

By Marion, Kwambai

Male involvement in family planning (FP) cannot be gainsaid. Their engagement is especially important in the nomadic and semi-nomadic communities of Wajir and Mandera where the topic is almost a taboo.

Save the Children recognizes the importance of male involvement in addressing maternal and new-born health issues, particularly child spacing, which is a form of family planning. It is for this reason that we have partnered with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Centre for Behavior Change Communication (CBCC) to implement a family planning programme called the Nomadic Health Project in Northern Kenya.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we aim to dispel myths and misconceptions about contraceptives in the nomadic and semi-nomadic communities, get men more involved in family planning matters and increase uptake of quality FP services among the above-mentioned communities in Kenya.

One of the ways we are implementing the project is through the male engagement barazas which aim to bring together men within the community to discuss important maternal and new-born health issues including: child spacing, pregnancy care, childcare, nutrition and hygiene.

Abass Abdi Ibrahim, 61, a semi-nomadic pastoralist living in Jaijai village is one of the area residents who attends the barazas. He tells us that he goes for the male barazas twice every month although sometimes he misses the sessions because he is away herding his animals.

So far I have attended four barazas since they began. I have learnt a lot from these sessions especially about child spacing. I encourage my fellow men to discuss family planning with their spouses and plan their families, he says through a translator.

He adds that child spacing is important because it is not fair to have so many children without a proper source of income.

A family unit is the most important part of any man, therefore, as the head of the household he should be able to provide a quality life for them. Children deserve proper food and health care, and proper child spacing achieves that, he says.

46-year-old Sadek Baa is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) working in Wajir County’s Jaijai Village. He has been a CHV for 8 years, attending to 15 households in Jaijai providing services like household visits, referral services, provision of health education, reproductive health services and family planning, as well as supporting immunization campaigns and supporting community dialogue days.

The community dialogue sessions have been very essential especially in educating the men in matters concerning child spacing and general health education. The community members have been able to get more clarity on child spacing from these sessions, he explained.

According to Baa, they are also working with religious leaders within these communities to provide a religious aspect on matters child spacing and general health education. Baa notes that the sessions have helped improve the health of children in the village because their parents have better health education.