Why does this matter?
Niger, a landlocked country in Western Africa on the southern edge of Sahara Desert, has the highest fertility rate in the world at 7.2 children per woman (UN World Population Prospects, 2016). The country also has the highest rate of adolescent marriage in the world, while having one of the lowest literacy rates globally (UNICEF, 2012). Childbearing in Niger follows a pattern of very limited spacing between pregnancies, which has severe consequences for maternal and infant health.
These findings have fueled Niger’s 2012-2020 Action Plan for Family Planning, aiming to increase contraceptive prevalence from 16% in 2010 to 50% in 2020. To achieve this goal, the action plan sets out a number of initiatives, including mobilizing religious and traditional leaders as family planning advocates. The role of the marabouts, or local cleric, is of particular relevance as Islam is the dominant religion in Niger and is practiced by up to 94% of the country’s population (DANIDA, 2006).
PERCENTAGE of NIGerien Girls married by the age of 18
Average number of children per woman in niger
YOUTH LITERACY RATE
PERCENTAGE OF Nigerien muslims
What is Sarari?
Sarari is a program piloted in the Zinder region of Niger, with the objective of promoting a supportive environment for birth spacing and family planning, by mobilizing the support of religious leaders, youth leaders, and other influential figures in the community.
How did we get here?
From May to October 2017, PSI Niger and YLabs joined forces to use a human-centered design (HCD) methodology to explore how religion, social norms, peers, family, aspirations, and financial constraints affect community attitudes regarding reproductive health. HCD was a powerful tool used by YLabs and PSI Niger to transmit the knowledge and creativity of local communities to co-design interventions in support of birth spacing and family planning. Find out what this looked like in the field.
In early 2018, we launched a six-month pilot that allowed our team to maintain the same agile and iterative mindset needed to continue to improve upon Sarari's design based on community member's ongoing feedback, ramp up our monitoring and evaluation of the program, and begin collecting initial impact results.