From 1969 to 2019, Kenya’s population has nearly quadrupled in size, from 10.9 million to an estimated 40 million. The large size of Kenya’s young population and its rapid population growth are influenced by several factors that have serious consequences for the health and well-being of women and children, and the development of Kenya. One out of four women aged 20–24 is married by age 18, and one out of four give birth by age 18. One out of four married women aged 15–49 is in need of family planning, and the total fertility rate (TFR) is 4.6. Failing to address these challenges can hinder the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) i.e. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
Towards a Solution
The Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approach recognizes the complex inter-connection between people, their health, and the natural resources on which they depend. In view of this interconnection, a number of organizations globally initiated integrated programming to address both social and environmental challenges dating back to the mid-1980s. Since then, a subset of these programmes have employed the PHE integrated approach, aiming to simultaneously improve access to primary health care services, particularly family planning and reproductive health, while also helping communities conserve the critical ecosystems and natural resources on which they depend. The number of PHE projects increased throughout the early 2000s in the African Region, and proponents of these integrated approaches argue that they can be more eﬀective and more eﬃcient than single sector programmes for many reasons. Considering the outcome of the PHE approach, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Partners in Population and Development (PPD) jointly supported the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), Government of Kenya to document the PHE approach in Kenya in order to share it with other developing countries through South-South and triangular cooperation.
This approach mainly aimed to contribute to the achievement of: SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), Target 3.7 (By 2020, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes); SDG Targets 5.6 (Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences); and SDG 12.8 (By 2030 ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature).
In this project, the PHE approach for Eliminating National Gaps and Advancing Global Equity (ENGAGE), a multimedia presentation, was developed in both English and Kiswahili, highlighting many of Kenya’s development successes, including national population policy. The ENGAGE presentation serves as an advocacy tool to promote the PHE approach. The main activities of the project are the organization, implementation and monitoring of policy and advocacy engagements for dialogue. The presentations are available online to stream or download for future use. Presenters at various engagement activities can choose to use narrated videos or to deliver ENGAGE presentations live. A separate PHE toolkit hosted by Knowledge for Health (K4Health), a project hosted at Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America, provides current and high-quality resources for the PHE community and others interested in learning more about the PHE approach and integrated development.
The project has proved that it can be used for high-level policy discussions at the national and global levels. Ten keyways it can help to reach to policy makers which are as follows:
- Interpreting demographic and other data to provide the “so what”—the underlying stories and their implications for policy action,
- communicating complex concepts such as the demographic dividend through well-crafted, accessible presentations,
- producing multimedia-presentations, such as Kenyan Population Reference Bureau (PRB) ENGAGE, that can catalyze commitment to FP/RH goals among decision-makers at global conferences, and in-country policy training;
- constructing a roadmap for policy-focused work to achieve the agenda of Family Planning 2020 and SDGs ,
- creating infographics for telling stories about the country,
- conducting thematic media training for print, broadcast and digital journalists to ensure that relevant stories are told accuratelym
- developing new influencers and leaders in family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) through policy communication training,
- conducting demographic analyses to help explain key trends,
- explaining the linkages between population, health and the environment to inform integrated programmes;
- Increasing the focus on gender and highlight gender’s critical role for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), countries and communities.
The ENGAGE toolkit has been based on previous experiences by PRB, which span over 30 years of training and research as well as the development of policy communication tools worldwide. The goal is to improve access to quality, client-centered and linked healthcare services that include family planning and reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services. The project’s work is focused on Baringo and Nakuru counties in Kenya, but a similar project was implemented in Uganda, Ethiopia and Madagascar, and the experiences shared among these countries to modify further for achieving the results.
PPD, as an inter-Governmental organization of 27 countries promoting South-South cooperation in reproductive health including family planning and population areas, shares success stories of this project to its other member countries through its high-level ministerial forums such as its International Inter-ministerial Ministerial Conference.
The integrated PHE approach has major potential for increasing awareness among policymakers, family planning advocates, the media and religious leaders in Kenya on sustainable development issues.