Leveraging the power of religious leaders to promote family planning: Evidence from a CARE reproductive health project in Chad Open Access

Backes, Brianna (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/b2773w754?locale=en


Background: Supporting Access to Family Planning and Post-Abortion Care in Emergencies (SAFPAC) has supported governments in Sub-Saharan Africa by integrating essential sexual and reproductive health services into new and ongoing humanitarian emergencies since 2011. SAFPAC’s work in Chad aims to reduce unintended pregnancies and deaths from unsafe abortion. A key component of the SAFPAC project’s community engagement strategy is to engage religious leaders in committees in order to transform restrictive social norms around modern contraceptive use and access to post-abortion care. This evaluation seeks to document the unique aspects of SAFPAC’s experience engaging religious leaders in Chad.

Methods: We conducted a thorough desk review of program documents and publications. We also synthesized key themes and identified guiding questions to inform key informant interviews and open- ended surveys with leadership from CARE Chad and CARE USA (N=17).

Results: SAFPAC put actions in place to expand on motivations and overcome barriers to family planning and PAC support, which resulted in religious leader committees impacting their communities as agents of social change. Key strategies included: 1) Increasing knowledge and technical skills in reproductive health; 2) Investigating religious texts and traditions through participatory dialogue; 3) Creating interfaith committees guided by consistent supportive supervision; and 4) Linking religious leaders with the health system.

Conclusion: Community engagement approaches, like SAFPAC’s strategy in Chad, that leverage religious leaders of different faiths to support family planning and post-abortion care are a key strategy for challenging restrictive norms and informing behaviors to increase contraceptive uptake in crisis- affected settings, like Chad. Religious leaders are trusted and respected in communities, and thus have the ability to promote or prohibit reproductive health access. Further research is needed as to how religious leaders can be transformed from prohibitors to promoters of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Background. 2

Literature Review. 15

Methods. 24

Results. 27

Discussion. 39

Conclusion. 43

References. 47

Appendix. 51

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