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Pokot women want husbands to support family planning

By Irissheel Shanzu | February 8th 2017

Pokot women want the men in their community to support family planning efforts as they are unable to care of their large families.

The women said they were suffering in the ongoing drought as their husbands could not support them and their children.

Christen Elijah from Pokot North said a large number of women did not practice family planning owing to opposition from their husbands.

She added that many of the polygamous families in the region had been severely affected by the drought because the majority of men had moved to Uganda in search of pasture for their livestock.

"The Ministry of Health should sensitise people on the importance of family planning in this region. We are unable even to take our children to school because we cannot raise school fees," said Ms Elijah.

She noted that women in the region had been giving birth to many children because their husbands owned large herds of cattle, which helped them raise large families.

But times had changed as the livestock died as a result of the drought.

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 indicated that women in West Pokot County have between seven and eight children, and only 14.2 per cent of them (women) use family planning.

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"We have seen women dying because of giving birth every year... their bodies are weak because they have nothing to eat. We urge the county government to start sensitisation campaigns for women who are not aware of family planning," she said.

Cultural factors such as the belief that many children are a symbol of wealth have hindered efforts to promote the use of family planning methods in the pastoralist community.

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