By Ralph Madugu
On June 16, 2022, stakeholders comprising religious leaders, gender champions, government functionaries drawn from the Plateau State Ministry of Health, State Primary Healthcare Board, Tearfund implementing partners, members of Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Plateau Peace Building Agency, community leaders and benefitting communities from 5 local government areas of Plateau State converged on Novel Suites in Jos, Plateau State to gauge the impact of one of the programmes being implemented by Tearfund Nigeria through its local implementing partners.
The event tagged, “Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) Passages Project Dissemination,” provided avenue for participants to share stories about the positive impact of the project on their families and communities.
Other objectives of the event were to share experiences and lessons on strengthening the various components of FAM in programs, implementation of the Transforming Masculinities approach in reducing intimate partner violence, increase access to Family Planning usage, improved interreligious relationship as well discuss steps towards the sustainability of the project.
Giving a brief background about Masculinities, Faith and Peace (MFP) Dr. Pwaluke Luku of the Faith Alive Foundation (FAF), one of the two local implementing partners of the project, said the goal was to see a reduction in sexual and gender based violence, increase healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies and improve inter-religious relationships by addressing social norms that promote unequal gender relations and prevent the use of modern methods of child spacing in mixed Christian and Muslim communities in Plateau State.
He further explained: “MFP is carried out in one church and one Mosque in each of the five implementation communities. It works with Christian and Muslim congregations to foster greater gender equality, positive masculinities, improved maternal health among young couples, and improved community relationships.
“The MFP intervention is designed to engage congregational leaders, young couples and their wider Christian and Muslim congregations.
“This intervention works with different groups. The approach is either workshops or structured small-group discussions, called community dialogue. It draws on scriptural reflections on gender inequality, SGBV, positive masculinities, child spacing and inter-religious relationships.”
Speaking on the achievements of the Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) passages projects, the MFP Project Manager, Andrew Saman, disclosed that the FAM Passages sought to increase uptake of Family Planning services which is achieved through the inclusion of Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM).
He added that the project being implemented by Tearfund through its local partners was spread across 5 LGAs in Plateau State, targeting newly married couples and first time parents.
He noted that the goal was to strengthen Fertility Awareness Methods in service delivery and raise awareness about Family Planning at the community level.
Saman stated that the objectives of the project were to strengthen family planning (especially FAM) in adaptation of the evidence-based “Transforming Masculinities” approach through training and supervision, raising awareness, support service delivery by availing FAM commodities and quality assurance mechanisms as well as implement new innovations.
He disclosed that the project was also building provider capacity through training and supervision, provision of basic information on menstrual cycle, when-how pregnancy occurs, likelihood of pregnancy at different times during cycle and different life stages, role of male fertility among others.
He said the challenges encountered in the process of implementation included capacity building, Stock-outs of commodities, transfer-attrition of health providers, conflict and insecurity.
Earlier in his welcome address, Country Director, Tearfund Nigeria, Joseph Aloo represented by Mr. Godwin Nimyel, said the event was aimed celebrating the gains of a project that was dear to Tearfund adding that it was also a time to recognize and celebrate the gains so far recorded in the implementation of the MFP project in the state.
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Makwin and Mr. and Mrs. Abukakar Musa both from Dadin Kowa in Jos South LGA, who are beneficiaries of the project, gave testimonies of how it had impacted their lives.
The event featured a cultural dance presentation by the Irigwe women group, breakout, question and answer sessions during which participants dissolved into smaller groups, brainstormed and made far reaching recommendations on the future of the projects.
Goodwill messages came from the Tearfund UK office, Christian Association of Nigeria, Jama’atul Nasrul Islam, Women Affairs Ministry, Plateau State Peace Building Agency and the Ministry of Health and the Plateau State Health Management Board.