The Story Workshop Educational Trust has been implementing the Family Planning Advocacy project at community level, with support from USAID | DELIVER PROJECT. The purpose of the project was to improve community understanding of the range of family planning methods and available services and how to access them, thereby helping drive the uptake of family planning services.
Machinga and Mulanje Districts were selected as project implementation sites because they are among some of the districts in Malawi with relatively higher population growth rates of 4.1% and 3.9% respectively, according to the 2010 Demographic Health Survey (DHS). The campaign has run for a period of two and a half months from July to mid- September, 2014.
In collaboration with the District Health Office, SWET was commissioned to work specifically in the impact areas of Traditional Authority Mabuka and Njema in Mulanje, Traditional Authority Nyambi and Nkula in Machinga districts.
The ultimate goal for the campaign was to improve Sexual and Reproductive Health for all men, women and young people in Malawi especially the vulnerable and underserved. The Family Planning advocacy work at the community level had two main objectives which are:
- To Increase awareness of the family planning methods and services that are available at both health facility and community level by providing information on safer reproductive health practices by men, women and young people.
- To promote participation, ownership and sustainability of safe reproductive health practices by men women and young people.
The Family Planning Advocacy campaign adopted an edutainment approach using different channels of communication in the form of theatre, community leadership forums and inters- personal channels to address issues and communicate FP messages that are appropriate and relevant.
Through SWET’s Radio Listeners’ Clubs, the Family Planning advocacy campaign which was implemented in the 4 T/As in Mulanje and Machinga districts utilized traditional media for message dissemination. These include:
Theatre for Advocacy:
The RLCs have been equipped to make drama performances that relay important messages about Family Planning such as, family planning methods, benefits, access points as well as the importance of partner involvement.
The RLCs have been trained in mobilizing and advocating for increased utilization of FP service through door- to-door activities. Each RLC member was expected to conduct peer-to-peer visits in their respective communities with the aim of promoting FP methods.
Community Dialogue Sessions:
Traditional leaders as well as influential persons at community level were engaged in open dialogue sessions with their communities in order to discuss challenges around FP service utilization as well as come up with solutions that will address such issues at community level. The forums also provided a platform for dialogue between health personnel and local leaders which has a great impact on FP service uptake at community level.