Reproductive Health Project
Family Planning in Rural Areas
“Kugeria“ is the hot topic of discussion in Murinduko, a village about 200 kilometres north of Nairobi. Translated it means something like “lets try it”, and this is certainly the motto of the ca. 20 volunteers at Kugeria, a new project to promote family planning in rural areas. Susan Korte, the Kenyan woman who manages the project, is proud of the women who travel on foot or by bicycle as so-called community-based distributors (CBDs). They distribute free condoms and teach women and men working in the fields and unemployed youth in bars about IUDs, 3-month shots and other birth control methods.
Family planning should not be placed in the context of illness, which is why Kugeria chose not to use doctors, nurses and pharmacists to spread information. The CBDs are received with open arms – because they spread ioie de vivre This successful idea was born in Asia. With the help of Kenya’s Ministry of Health it was first brought to the country’s rural regions. The counselling system is based on the traditional sense of community still found in rural areas. The 20 CBDs in Murinduko, which lies at the foot of Mount Kenya, are all from the area and know many of its ca. 20,000 residents personally.
During 14-day courses they are trained to be health aids, afterwards they
work as volunteers for Kugeria. With the help of a simple, specially developed checklist, they question people who would like information, advise about theebest birth control method and reach into their large bags filled with birth control. The supplies are provided free by international aid organizations. The CBDs refer people to the nearest clinic when they are unsure how to answer their questions or when health problems need to be addressed. They are able to consult with 30 to 80 people each day.
AIDS has affected nearly every Kenyan family. So it comes as no surprise that the free information provided by the CBDs is finding an increasing number of takers. Questions about sexuality, birth control and family planning are beginning to shed their taboos.
As recently as 1980, the average Kenyan family had 8 children, today it has less than 5. The number of women using protection has risen from 7 to 33 percent. But a third of all women who do not want children at all or who wish to postpone their next pregnancies do not use any type of protection.
Which means there is still much work ahead for the ca. 20,000 health aids that travel the countryside with Kugeria.