Image: We use illustrations in our community discussions to explore the reasons why some mothers and babies thrive, while others struggle to survive.
Project Title: Increasing Pastoralist Resilience through Healthy Timing & Spacing of Births
This project builds pastoralist resilience through family planning by encouraging the community’s understanding of reproductive health while strengthening the connection to existing government services.
This project is based in the communities of our DevWASH-14 project: 8 kebeles1 in the BenaTsemay woreda2 and 8 kebeles in the Dasenech woreda. These are two of the most at-risk tribes in South Omo. There are more than 20,000 people in the area and more than 5,000 of reproductive age. Fewer than 1% of adults are literate. Water-borne diseases affect 86% of the people, communicable disease rates are 92%, and infant mortality is 9%.
The Ethiopian government is committed to investments in health services, but in the remote South Omo Zone the need to strengthen access to family planning services is widely recognized. Equally important are the challenges on the demand side for reproductive health and family planning. These communities do not recognize the need for, nor the benefits of, family planning. Cultural norms contribute to the difficulty of introducing family planning including: the low status of females, the lack of knowledge about family planning, and the lack of trust of government provided services.
This project tests an integrated approach to introducing the benefits of healthy timing and spacing of births. Using our community learning process, the APC-14 project is:
- Exploring the link between child survival, family planning, and nutrition to increase the community’s understanding of the benefits of family planning
- Elevating the status of females with functional literacy and skill building
- Improving access to government services through community-supported donkey ambulance service
- Building trust between communities and government health workers
The results of this project will be an integrated approach to helping pastoralist communities understand the benefits of healthy timing and spacing of births and participate in the national program of reproductive health services.
The project is well underway. We have:
- Completed our baseline assessments of communities and services
- Updated our functional vocational literacy curriculum to reinforce family planning, livelihood, and nutrition messaging
- Hired and trained project staff
- Designed and built an innovative donkey ambulance for community entrepreneurs interested in operating an ambulance service especially for expectant mothers, transporting them to distant government services.