The Eastern Region Family Planning Expansion Project (ERFPEP) began in 2004, and was designed to reduce the prevalence of child and maternal mortality and morbidity in six districts in the region, by increasing the use of family planning, and reducing the number of mistimed, unwanted, and high-risk pregnancies in vulnerable families. ERFPEP accomplished this by increasing community awareness and interest in family planning options, and strengthening the accessibility and availability of quality family planning services in the region.
"One of the greatest successes of this project is the significant changes that have been made to the beliefs and practices of those in the local communities," said Netra Prasad Bhatta, team leader for ADRA Nepal's Health Program, referring to a recent evaluation report that highlighted a shift in community perception regarding the importance of family planning.
According to Bhatta, many families are now starting to allow three to five years between the births.
Other changes include a growing belief that decisions regarding family size should be made by both parents. In many cases, families are now having only two children.
"Before, girls used to get married before the age of 20, and children were spaced less than three years apart," added Bhatta. "Now, because of this project more couples recognize the importance of greater spacing between births."
By the completion of the project, a total of 150,000 people benefited from ADRA's mass health awareness campaigns.
ADRA also provided training in family planning for more than 3,000 health facility management committee members, 2,600 female community health volunteers, 300 peer educators, more than 1,400 Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) staff members volunteers and Junior Red Cross Circle members, 90 district-level Reproductive Health Coordination Committee members, more than 600 health service providers, and 660 members of Men as Partners, a program that encourages the involvement of men in gender equity and reproductive health issues.
In addition, ADRA strengthened the capacity of more than 380 outreach clinics in the region, and distributed an estimated $100,000 of medical equipment to local health facilities.
As a result, the project not only increased the rate of contraceptive use within the region from 44 percent to 53 percent, but also improved the quality of local health services. According to agency reports, the skill sets of service providers increased from 27 percent to nearly 80 percent. Targeted residents also reported that their satisfaction in local health services had increased by nearly 50 percent.
"We are very pleased with what this project has accomplished," added Bhatta. "The success of ERFPEP showcases the substantial impact that ADRA Nepal is making in the region, further strengthening our standing as a leading international organization that meets the reproductive health needs of the Nepali people."
The project was financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by ADRA Nepal, in collaboration with ADRA International, the Ministry of Health and Population, the Nepal Red Cross Society, and other national, regional, and district level stakeholders.
Established in 1987, ADRA works in 32 districts of Nepal in the areas of reproductive health, education, economic development, emergency response and good governance. Of these five key areas, ADRA Nepal's largest focus is in reproductive health.
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ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.
For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.
Author: Nadia McGill
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