Transparency and Accountability: Taking the Measure of Family Planning Programs

By Zipporah Sakhasia, Resident Enumerator for Nairobi County, PMA2020 Kenya

Two years ago I never would have imagined that one day I would be going door to door in my neighborhood, asking women if they used contraception.  But in my job with Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020), that’s exactly what I do.

PMA2020 is a five-year project to gather information about family planning, water and sanitation, and related health issues in 10 countries across Africa and Asia, including Kenya.  Women like me, called Resident Enumerators, conduct the surveys in our local communities.  We enter the data into smartphones and then upload it to a central server, where it’s immediately available for analysis and reporting.  

The information we collect helps the government and its partners determine whether family planning programs are really working.  It also helps experts visualize the supply and demand for contraceptive commodities in the country, and provides insight into whether services are reaching all women, including the poor and disadvantaged. 

What does that have to do with human rights?  Everything!  The principle behind our work is called Transparency and Accountability.  In FP2020’s Rights and Empowerment Principles for Family Planningthis is how it’s defined:

Transparency and Accountability:  Individuals can readily access meaningful information on the design, provision, implementation and evaluation of contraceptive services, programs and policies, including government data. Individuals are entitled to seek remedies and redress at the individual and systems level when duty-bearers have not fulfilled their obligations regarding contraceptive information, services and supplies.

Many of the people that we interview have never participated in a survey before.  They’re actually glad to have someone ask them about their reproductive health issues.  These are basic concerns for everyone, and people are encouraged to know that data is being collected to help improve their living conditions. 

We did our first round of PMA2020 surveys in May through July 2014, with a second round in November-December 2014. We are currently collecting data for the third round of the survey, which will end this month. We will have one more round of data collection before the end of the year, and then move to an annual schedule.  

One of the many things PMA2020 is looking at is the percentage of women in Kenya using contraception.  This is called the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate, or CPR.  It’s an extremely important indicator of the status of women’s reproductive health.  In 2009, the last year Kenya had a major national health survey, the CPR for married women was 46 percent.  The government’s goal was to get that number to 56 percent by 2015, and to 70 percent by 2030. 

We were very excited when our survey showed that Kenya’s current CPR for married women is at 58 percent. This means that the government has exceeded its 2015 goal! Analysts are now busy studying the data to figure out exactly where and why the improvement happened. This is important so that going forward, the government and its partners can focus on the most effective family planning programs.

As a PMA2020 Resident Enumerator, I feel a great sense of achievement for what we’re accomplishing.  I know that my work, and the work of the other Resident Enumerators, is playing a significant role in helping Kenya improve the reproductive health of all its citizens.