Mrs. Sarah Sudi is a mother of six, she is now five months pregnant and expecting her seventh baby.
Resting under the tree outside her two roomed makuti thatched roof house in Lungalunga , Kwale County, Mrs. Sudi gulps a glass of water to relieve herself from the thirst due to high climatic conditions.
Being at her late 20’s, for Mrs. Sudi life has never been easy, being a single mother after the husband abandoned her to marry the second wife.
“I am the breadwinner in this family, my husband left me for another woman whom he married. I was left with the burden of taking care of my children despite the fact that am unemployed and neither my first born son. Every morning I do casual jobs such as shamba work or even doing laundry for different families so as to earn some money”. She said, looking pale and exhausted.
She laments that due to poverty and unemployment she is unable to afford to educate her children, “my first born son did not complete primary school level because he constantly complained about being hungry all day and even at school. Sometimes I was unable to provide meals for my family”.
On family planning and child spacing, Mrs. Sudi blames traditional and cultural settings that burred women in using modern family planning and otherwise to give birth to many children, a practice that has made her to regret.
“My husband was reluctant to allow me to use any family planning methods as he urged that it’s against the traditional values and he will be laughed upon by his mates”, she said.
She added that tradition and culture have played a key role in discouraging women in using family planning methods as a way of child spacing.
“I didn’t have enough space nor time to take care of each children, child spacing was a problem as the gap between one child to another was very close”. She finally said.
According to Ms. Margret Mwaila, the head of Coast region National Council of Population and development, less is being done despite the fact the government under the ministry of health and other stakeholders have hold several chiefs baraza’s and meetings to enlighten women on the importance of using family planning methods.
She observed that traditional myths and malpractices has been a stumbling block for women who are willing to use family planning methods.
“Some of the women consult each other on the methods of using family planning instead of seeking medical assistance, during this process, they end up discouraging each other and thus encouraging the one who is using the family planning method to remove it”, she said.
She further observed that religion has also played a key role in influencing women not to use family planning methods. “We had talks with religious leaders who disputed the said myth saying that women are allowed use family planning by using withdrawal method”.
According to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2014, 38 percent of married women in Coast region are using modern method of contraception being below of the national percentage which is at 53 percent.