This briefing presents the findings of a research project observing the implementation of the Provincial Multi-sector Strategy for Family Planning (PMSSFP) 2014 – 2020 in South Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Bukavu, Walungu and Kabare South and North. The NMSSFP is an integral part of the DRC’s National Strategy on Sexual and Reproductive Health (NSSRH). It seeks to increase the uptake of modern contraceptives from 6.5% to 19% by 2020 and to ensure access to contraceptives to an additional 2.1 million women by 2020.
This research had two main aims:
- To bring to light the PMSSFP’s main implementation challenges from the perspective of governmental, religious medical institutions and local international non-governmental organisations (INGOs);
- To analyse the effectiveness of the FP programme from the perspective of men, women and youth as service receivers.
The study finds that maternal death, mortality of children under five and teenage pregnancy are higher in South Kivu than the rest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to continuous conflicts by armed groups in the rural areas and a prolonged transition to recovery in Bukavu city.
The study concludes with five key recommendations for policy-makers and development practitioners working on family planning in DRC:
- South Kivu needs to create a FP programme that is sensitive to the family typology, age, location, socioeconomic status, religious belief of male and female family members, and is sensitive to diversity among people’s experiences and ways of living.
- The unmet need for contraception is an international community and governmental strategy which needs to be translated into communication that can lead to behavioural change.
- The absence of trained and knowledgeable women in positions of policy-making, policy-execution and service delivery in health centres is an obstacle in creating communication strategies that reach women of diverse ages, locations, education, employment backgrounds and religious beliefs.
- Local religious leaders have more power to be opinion leaders than the Provincial Government and INGO community when communicating FP messages to the local population. Training religious leaders of various parishes in remote areas will help FP awareness and behavioural change.
- Since 56% of the population in South Kivu are under 18, the inclusion of parents in training sessions on comprehensive SRH could enrich both parents and youth on understanding gender systems and norms in their communities and can help both boys and girls to live a life without sexual violence, early pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.