Religious Leaders Training for Joint Accountability in Kenya
In Kenya’s Kilifi County, where the modern contraceptive prevalence rate is very low—just 32.8 percent, compared to the national average of 53 percent—and the total fertility rate is high, the need to strengthen the enabling environment for family planning is a priority for local leaders. The county’s costed implementation plan (CIP), spanning 2017–2021, details the importance of increasing the number of family planning champions and strengthening stakeholder involvement, political commitment, and investment in advocacy to achieve its goals.
In September 2019, HP+ convened a workshop with government and civil society organization (CSO) representatives from Kilifi and Turkana counties to strengthen the county-level enabling environment for family planning. The workshop concluded with county representatives formulating action plans designed to address a priority area identified during the workshop. For Kilifi, this process included identifying the goal of strengthening outreach to faith and community leaders, who play a key role in influencing individual behaviors and community actions, including health-related practices such as contraceptive use and birth spacing.
HP+ built upon the outcomes of the workshop by facilitating a training in November 2019 for 24 Muslim and Christian organizations (including houses of worship), local CSOs, and government representatives. The three-day training, which used HP+’s adapted joint accountability curriculum, aimed to build the capacity of local leaders to contribute to CIP implementation and support government stewardship and transparency. Kilifi County’s Reproductive Health Coordinator, who participated in the September workshop, played a leadership role by recruiting participants for the training and presenting on the CIP, demonstrating local ownership of the process.
In addition, one of the faith leaders who attended the September training helped encourage her faith leader colleagues to join the workshop and is now co-leading an action plan activity.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants developed an action plan focused on mapping all faith and community leaders in Kilifi, developing standardized messaging around family planning, and conducting trainings to build champions by underscoring the importance of family planning issues within the community. In addition, the network of local leaders, which has continued to communicate and engage with local government to advance these goals, is now working with the district health department to reach communities on COVID-19 prevention and care-seeking efforts. The development of these initiatives demonstrates the importance of the strong foundation that has been established, building capacity of local leaders to help their communities in essential ways.