Good Faith Advocates: Family Planning on the Coast of Kenya
Over half of all sexually active adolescent girls in Kenya want to delay pregnancy but aren’t using family planning.
While the national government has committed to reducing teenage pregnancy rates and released an adolescent sexual and reproductive health policy, the coastal region has been slower to make progress. This is changing as a result of civil society organizations’ (CSOs)—including Kenya Muslim Youth Development Organization (KMYDO)—engagement with local government and health officials to resolve the lack of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and funding in the region. A sustained partnership between civil society and government remains critical to moving these objectives forward, given reports that more than 17,000 underage girls became pregnant in counties along the coast in 2018.
KMYDO, a national youth-led Muslim organization, has promoted the use of family planning among Muslims in the Kenyan counties of Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Mombasa since 2016. By facilitating trainings for Muslim leaders and discussions with service providers about Islamic support for family planning, KMYDO is building the capacity of imams and health workers to educate the communities in these four counties on sexual and reproductive health. In addition to capacity building, KMYDO has collaborated with the local government and other stakeholders to advocate for youth-focused family planning policies, such as age-appropriate sexuality education, as well as funding. This advocacy has resulted in the development of family planning costed implementation plans (CIPs), which are roadmaps for Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Mombasa to expand sexual and reproductive health services for young people. These plans also ensure programs and activities have allocated funds for implementation. Now that these strategies have been launched, KMYDO and other CSOs can work alongside policymakers to track the governments’ progress and ensure accountability for commitments in the region.
Throughout the past three years working on the Kenyan coast, KMYDO has inspired grassroots youth activism, strengthened community leadership and supported the growth of family planning advocacy. This publication features some of the advocates KMYDO has activated, trained or joined forces with on the coast to raise awareness of and access to family planning among young people.