Ask a westerner to make a change for the good in the Developing World and the first thing they want to do is build a building or buy some medicine.
That’s how we problem solve best, with our credit card, or so we think.
But the truth is solutions to some of the really challenging problems facing the third world, can’t be simply bought. In fact infusing huge sums of cash often exacerbates the problem.
Family planning is one of the most challenging issues on our planet. In the slum environments where we focus our efforts, it is absolutely crucial that we help women gain control over their reproductive lives. We can give build as many schools, fund as many feeding programs and give as many microloans as we want, but we’ll never catch up the unending river of unwanted pregnancies that continue to burden women and their families with more children then they can possible care for with the meager resources they possess.
All the best NGO’s recognize this and devote significant resources to solving this problem. But like all good NGO’s, their solutions involve buying things:
clinics, condoms ,birth control pills and depo-provera. Their intention are good, but they fail to recognize that the first 7 reasons family planning fails are all solved without buying a thing.
- Cultural Stigma and Bias
- Religious Antagonism
- The man refuses
- Rumors and Myths about Contraceptives— they make you sterile, give you cancer, etc.
- I’ll be seen as promiscuous if my neighbors see me go to the FP Clinic
- The Ugly Secret… the women herself. Her man comes home after a discouraging day of job seeking and has only herself to offer for comfort
All of these can only be overcome by a concerted effort to educate women, village elders, priests, grandmothers and empowering girls in school. There’s not enough money in the world to recruit, train and deploy the army of Community Health Workers (CHW’s) required to wring the cultural bias out of our societies, overturn the myths and misconceptions and enable men and women to see the importance of practicing all the methods of family planning available in our communities.
Deploying Community Health Workers at low cost/no cost into the most afflicted communities so that they can hammer away at the cultural and religious prejudice/myths and misconceptions that are the real destroyers of family planning programs versus investing in costly western birth control methods which currently often get mis-used or discarded.