Preserving our society
Perhaps the most important issue we face is the number if people competing for resources on our planet. Despite the vast and seemingly empty spaces, Northern Kenya is no exception. There have been many noble efforts to introduce contraceptives and family planning.... however, many samburu people are still choosing to have between 5 and 12 children.
The Milgis trust is starting a movement that will give the samburu people a different perspective on 'family planning'. The movement is called 'Ramat e Losho' (REL), which best translates into 'preserving our society'. We are building a platform to showcase the population explosion and all of the disasters that can be associated with it. Our hope is that people can better understand their roles in building a more sustainable future.
Through the eyes of the people
It is difficult to fathom overpopulation when your nearest neighbour is 50 kilometres away. Most pastoralists have never been to big towns, let alone the sprawling cities found across the continent. From the ground they appear to live in a never-ending rangeland that can still support many more people.When told that there are too many livestock, most pastoralists would disagree - arguing that their parents had twice the number of livestock. They have not been shown that in fact there nearly 12 times the amount of people compared to when their parents were young, and as a result less livestock per capita
The human and livestock population in Northern Kenya has passed its threshold and if nothing is done to educate people what is happening then it will be a difficult road ahead. This is largely because the Samburu cannot see for themselves what is happening in the bigger picture. Furthermore, until recently, a majority of these people have been sceptical of modern contraceptives because of the surrounding 'taboo'.
Thanks to their vibrant and musical culture, the samburu respond very well to media. We are using media as the frontline in showing poeple what is happening. There is no mobile network in this area, and so we have a mobile film unit and are looking to develop a radio talkshow . The film being made is tailored specifically for showcasing the population issue. It uses a lot of aerial footage and animation - giving people an insight they they do not see from the ground. The film is in Maa and will be screened at all REL events, followed by a practical FP workshop. Makawatu, the filmmakers, are specialists in rural developement documentaries.
A warrior walking along with his herd of livestock may come across the occasional ditch. Oblivious to the bigger picture, he goes around it and finds grass elsewhere.
What he does not realise is that thousands of erosion gullies are consuming more than half of the soil that he relies on for grazing his cows.
Fertility Bracelets & Necklaces
Through the Haller foundation we have access to a very simple necklace and bracelet. The necklaces and bracelets are designed to help women track their menstrual cycle, so that both husband and wife are aware of the ovulation period.
This very simple strategy is designed to provide family planning solutions in area's where modern contraception is culturally misunderstood. Before these bracelets where introduced, many women in the area believed that their fertile time was during their period. We find that the samburu people have responded very well to these basic, yet effective tools.
This ruler, which lays out the menstrual cycle per day, is given to the older girls in all primary schools in the area. Also, our secondary school students take the rulers to their respective schools and share the idea with their classmates. It provides an effective means of mitigating risk of pregnancy.
We employ a lady who travels to each community and is the forefront of the family planning programme. For 3 years Mary has worked tirelessly with all of the communities within our area. This year we are very motivated with a new idea and are making a film and various media solutions to boost awareness of population demographics.
She talks with the community at all levels and teaches all aspects of family planning. She helps CHAT to provide contraception and to mobilise the communities!
Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT)
Shanni Wreford-Smith and her dedicated team have contributed immensely to the providing access to family planning solutions in the region. In conjunction with Government of Kenya and Milgis Trust, CHAT carry out mobile clinics every year. They are specialists in family planning and provide modern and effective contraception for rural communities around Kenya. We value their support immensely and strive to work closely together in the future.