Back Pack Outreach

Based on a grant from CHASE, our partner Communities Health Africa Trust (CHAT) have visited 45 communities in eight counties around Mount Kenya bringing family planning services and advice to areas in great need of their service. Over 7,000 people were reached over the two months of the outreach.

Back Pack team at workCHAT work with grass roots mobilisers who reach out to their communities with information and advice about family planning options. As well as family planning they also talk about environmental issues and encourage communities to think about the links between family size, the environment and resource scarcity: “It will help communities make informed resource allocation and distribution decisions in relation to their family size, influencing communal decisions and realising that their high population growth rate impacts negatively on the entire community. Men were especially receptive to this form of ‘logic’ thus bringing men and boys into the family planning conversation and participation.”

The mobilisers work closely with Ministry of Health “Back Pack” nurses who bring family planning supplies to the communities that the mobilisers have visited. In the most recent programme funded by CHASE, 39 mobilisers participated in the Back Pack outreach. Travelling on boda bodas between the communities (spaced between 10 and 15kms apart) they visited over 7,000 people in August and September.

In terms of family planning commodities distributed, 4,264 women were provided with contraceptives ranging from long-term implants to pills. According to CHAT’s meticulously kept records, some 55% of those who received a long-term method were new clients, and 73% of short-term methods were repeats. This second figure is particularly encouraging as it shows that CHAT’s outreach programmes are working, and working well.

Jane says goodbyeJane is one of CHAT’s mobilisers:
“When Jane, accompanied by her Back Pack nurse Fred, arrived at Soit Nyiro community in Samburu North on a boda boda, the community members were eagerly waiting for their services. [Jane had visited some days prior to tell them about the upcoming visit.]

The crowd was mainly made up of women and children waiting for the services in a nearby Manyatta [homestead]. Jane then spotted a group of men playing a game of ntotoi under a tree whilst enjoying partaking of their nkumbao [snuff] as women and young children go to look after the livestock. She took the initiative to talk to the men about family planning, integrating the information with environmental awareness. As she addressed them, they engaged her in questions on the relationship between the environment, their animals, family planning and family size.

An elderly man stood up and gave a story of how their environment used to be years ago: ‘In the old days, there were very many trees in the forests, wild animals used to roam around and rains were immense, but nowadays it is so open, you can see as far as Mt. Nyiro’.

After a lengthy discussion, they (the men) begun enquiring about the available methods of family planning, side effects and the time a woman would take before giving birth again. Samburu men from Soit Nyiro really appreciated the short discussion they had with Jane and promised to go and discuss the same issues with their wives.”

Jane commented on the impact of her visit: “Let’s always remember that a woman’s ability to decide on her own fertility is the bedrock of gender equality and economic empowerment.”

The counties that CHAT has been working in – August and September 2017

Map courtesy of d-maps.com – d-maps.com/carte.php?num_car=35011