Advocating For Family Planning Among The Youth In Coastal Kenya

Alfred Sigo is the Director of Pwani Youth Network, a Mombasa based organization championing for youth reproductive health and development. I had a short chat with him and this is what he had to say.

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

For the last four years I have been working with young people from informal settlement in Mombasa to champion the issue of family planning among the adolescent. Youth from my area have been facing a lot of challenges in matters of reproductive health and getting proper health services and information. Today we have set up a youth friendly center in Mikindani Mombasa and have satellite drop-in centers in several areas which provide free condoms to the youths and other members of the community. More than 5,000 Youth are currently receiving these services from us

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Poverty stricken families struggling to raise children and unable to send their children to school drove me to start this initiative. Maternal mortality can be indirectly reduced by practicing family planning. I can say I’m alive and health today because my mother spaced us well and she used practiced family planning. National and County governments should in fact channel more resources in advocating for family planning.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

Under-financing of the health sector has been the greatest challenge in Kenya and more than 80 percent of the little funds channeled to the sector goes to paying of salaries. We have also been facing the challenge of the law governing family planning and to some extent challenges related to religion. We are working closely with the Mombasa County Government to increase financing on family planning. We are glad that for the last one year the financing has increased from 20% to 30% of the county budget.

What is your (country/region/city’s) biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Poverty is still one of the largest challenge my country. Some other challenges are cultural myths and misconceptions, religion and Family planning and gender norms and also health financing. Lobbying for reproductive health financing and especially family planning allocation is not a walk in the park.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I hope to see an significant increase in health financing and the number of young people using family planning methods. This will eventually help reduce maternal and infant mortality by at least 80% .I am hoping that through Pwani Youth Network we can set up more youth friendly center in the Coast region to help reduce deaths occurring in the region.

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