Men Setting the Pace for Mobilization in the Uptake of Modern Contraception in Samburu

By Raphaella Ekiru, Wako Banchale

Saidimu Leparlele is a new male champion paving the way for marginalised women to access modern contraceptive methods. At 54, Saidimu who hails from Bendera Village of Bendera Community Health Unit, Samburu County, is wading through a highly patriarchal community filled with rumours, myths, and misconceptions about family planning, to create new frontiers for men to learn about the availability, usage, and benefits of modern contraception. Leading by example, this is how Saidimu’s informed position on modern contraceptives is building a protective shield for his wife and other women to access, use, and demonstrate the benefits.

The Retooling Point

Saidimu came to our attention after he attended a male cultural leaders’ dialogue meeting, where he advocated for the use of family planning (FP). At the session, Saidimu criticised men who do not allow women to use modern contraceptives to space children. Saidimu, who is a person living with disability, has eight living children with his wife. He stood out due to his position on allowing women to use modern contraceptives.

“I have many children because I did not know that a woman can protect herself from getting pregnant. I now understand that people from this region are having unplanned pregnancies because they lack knowledge about how they can prevent unplanned pregnancies. It is difficult to raise eight children while depending on my wife’s small-scale charcoal burning business,” he said.

Information Catalysing Male Involvement

Saidimu’s wife only heard about FP when she attended her first-ever antenatal care clinic during her last pregnancy. She told her husband she needed to seek FP services. Luckily, her husband had heard about modern contraception after he attended a community dialogue forum.

“When my wife approached me to discuss FP issues, I was not only delighted but felt confident because I had gained information about FP at the dialogue meeting. I told her to go for FP. She was a little surprised at my take. Still, I assured her that I am a new knowledgeable man, and would not have any more children,” he said, “My wife opted for long-term contraception, the implant.”

The Yield in DESIP’s Investment in Male Involvement

Saidimu is among the cultural leaders who benefited from FP sensitisation organised by DESIP through a male dialogue meeting done quarterly at the community unit. He now teaches his peers on the importance of family planning as a male FP champion. So far, dialogue meetings have reached 4,206 people, including people with disability, adolescents and in-school youth.

Funded by UkAid, the Delivering Sustainable and Equitable Family Planning Increases Programme (DESIP) is implemented in 19 low contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) counties in line with FP 2020 commitments, the sustainable development Goals (SDGs), universal health coverage (UHC) to ensure accessible quality health care  for all Kenyans ‘leaving no one behind.’ Targeting poor women and adolescent girls, women under 20 years and people living with disabilities, the expected programme impact is a reduction in maternal, new-born and child mortality while increasing more sustainable and equitable access to modern contraceptives.