Burundi is living on a demographic time bomb. Long term stability and socio-economic recovery are seriously threatened by a high population growth. Over half (56%) of the population is younger than 20 years. If the present growth of 3% per annum continues, the population will double in only 25 years. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on a country that’s already among the poorest in the world, with 68% of the population surviving on less than 1 dollar a day. In addition, violations of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) are widespread. The need for an effective family planning policy and a reduction of sexual and gender based violence are much needed.
In 2013 Health Works has started the “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” (SRHR) project. We provide support to the Burundian government’s efforts to enhance the use of family planning services. Among other things, this means we aim to increase access to, demand for, and quality of these services. We also want to help youth in making informed choices regarding their sexual attitude and behavior. This should also help reducing sexual and gender-based violence in the future.
One of the activities in this project is to activate community members. For example in some communities, meetings about SRHR issues are being organized. Some of the young people become ‘change agents’ after visiting these meetings and learning about the benefits of reproductive health services. Being a change agent means identifying people who experience problems, tell them about the services available, and sometimes accompany them to the health center.
Key elements of the project:
Our approach is aimed at sustainability. This means we (re)build or strengthen existing social structures instead of replacing them with external initiatives. We do this by:
a) Implementing a Community RMM approach. For example in the case of the ‘change agents’: they themselves identify problems, come up with possible solutions to these problems and point these solutions out to people (in this case the available SRHR services);
b) At the same time we’re organizing concrete activities: such as sexual education and education on family planning, but also about sexual violence and other SRHR issues;
c) Providing direct health services related to family planning and sexual and reproductive care. While lobbying for, and increasing, the capacity of government to improve community security at large and the SRHR policy.
Activities and results include:
Within the SRHR project in Burundi in 2014: