Family planning and the use of contraceptives among Kilifi residents has not been fully embraced.
At Ndugumnani village in Ganze sub-County, Kilifi County majority of the men are against modern family planning methods.
Despite the vigorous sensitization programmes carried out in the area, the men, claim that the contraceptives have negative side effects that in the long run, affect their sex lives.
Further, they claim that contraceptives also affect their wives, and are now seeking for traditional methods.
Jonathan Mangare says that although the government and non-governmental organisations have been holding sensitization crusades, they have failed to provide men with alternative ways of safe family planning.
“The family planning methods that they preach are not acceptable. They should come up with alternative ways of family planning. Contraceptives affect our women. Some get periods twice a month, and others, their libido goes down. This has resulted to men looking for second wives,” he said.
Annastasia Pola, a resident of Dzikunze area in Ganze Sub County blames the slow uptake of contraceptives to high poverty levels and culture, adding that residents believe that the contraceptives are meant to control their population.
“Poverty has made us very vulnerable. I gave birth at the age of 15, out of desperation. I was forced to beg for money to feed my family. Some parents force their girls to get married to older men just for money,” Pola said.
Selina Kombe from Ndugumnani village narrates how her husband refused the idea of her using contraceptives.
A mother of four children, with a one-year gap each, she says that life has been unbearable, since she is forced to feed them when her husband lacks money.
“I told my husband that I needed to start family planning. He refused, saying that even if he has 10 children, he will manage to feed and educate them. But I was the one suffering, because he could leave us without food, forcing me to go to bed hungry with a baby to suckle,” she says.
After soul searching, she says, she overheard women talking about a local NGO that was offering solutions to help women gap their birthing.
“I told a doctor in the hospital about my plight. He agreed I have a secret family planning injection after sensitization from the Reproductive Health Network Kenya. I am now comfortable, knowing that I have blocked my womb for at least three years,” she says.
Executive Director of Reproductive Health Network Kenya, Nelly Munyasia, says that poverty and culture in the rural areas of Ganze have contributed to poor uptake of modern family planning and contraceptives, which has eventually resulted in a rise in malnutrition cases, high mortality rates, early ageing and deaths.
“Most of these people depend on farming. When there is drought, they don’t have anything to do, but spend time at home. And when stressed, sex is a stress reliever. They end up having sex which explains the many children within shorter gaps,” Ms Munyasia observes.
Ndugumnani sub-location assistant chief, Danson Chengo, says that the modern contraceptives and family planning methods are not ideal for locals, who prefer traditional methods.
“We had traditional methods of family planning that were safe. But when traditional midwives started discouraging women from going to clinics or hospitals, the government banned them and came up with the modern family planning methods,” he says.