The roadmap to Kenya’s FP2030 Commitments was elaborate. The Kenya Ministry of Health and the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), in collaboration with the FP2030 Focal Points and implementing and development partners, led the planning process. The NCPD is a semi-autonomous government agency under Kenya’s Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030. A comprehensive review of the FP2020 Commitments was undertaken to determine the achievements, challenges, best practices, and lessons learned to inform the re-commitment process. Data was derived from the Motion Tracker, a family planning tracking mechanism.
More than 40 family planning and reproductive health institutions participated in the drafting of the commitments, which were categorized into four major themes: Policy, Program, Finance, and Accountability. Knowledge SUCCESS was among the stakeholders involved in all the stages of planning, drafting, reviewing, and validating Kenya’s FP2030 Commitments.
In East Africa, Knowledge SUCCESS, hosted by Amref Health Africa, convenes the family planning community of practice and is part of the Family Planning Technical Working Group. Knowledge SUCCESS sought to ensure that knowledge management was integrated into Kenya’s FP2030 Commitments.
In its FP2030 vision, Kenya seeks to reap socio-economic benefits for all citizens through accessible, acceptable, equitable, and affordable quality family planning services, with zero unmet need by 2030. Kenya’s Ministry of Health brought together the FP2030 Focal Points, NCPD, and Council of Governors to review the proposed FP2030 Commitments before they were launched on 16th November 2021.
Knowledge SUCCESS participated in the preparation of the FP2030 roadmap and review of the Commitments at the Technical Working Group level, then proposed seven knowledge management-specific strategies in the FP2030 Commitments. In the validation meeting, it was noted that five of the seven strategies were included in the final document:
Beatrice Okundi, Assistant Director for the Population Program and Focal Point for family planning at the NCPD, reflects on the role of Knowledge SUCCESS. “Knowledge SUCCESS was instrumental in identifying high-impact practices and sharing with us what we needed to know when engaging different stakeholders, right from the community to the policy level. This included gathering experiences from what happened before (FP2020) as we seek to drive the new commitments. That was very critical,” she remarks.
With five out of seven knowledge management-specific strategies adopted, Kenya laid out bold KM goals in its FP2030 Commitments. Irene Alenga, Knowledge Management and Communication Lead of the Institute of Capacity Development at Amref Health Africa, explains the significance of integrating knowledge management strategies into the FP2030 Commitments:
“The power of knowledge management is the ability to connect people to people and information to people. The people for whom we advocate to access family planning information are not at the policy level. While information is available at the policy level, knowledge does not trickle down to the community. If the individuals at the community level do not understand the policies and are not able to translate the knowledge into useable products, then they will not be able to exercise their rights to access services, for what then can they demand if they do not have information? Knowledge management ensures there is a systematic process of connecting people to information and information to people; knowledge management ensures that information is available, accessible, and useable.”
Okundi notes that knowledge management ensures that there is a feedback mechanism in place to get information on community perspectives and knowledge of family planning, how to appreciate that knowledge, and address attitudes, beliefs, and myths and misconceptions about the same.
In the FP2030 Commitments, Kenya emphasized strengthening data capture as well as repackaging and disseminating user-friendly information. “One of the weak points in FP2020 was that there was no documentation. Only when one approached certain individuals would they get a bit of information about what was happening in the country. Today, our processes have been documented and the materials are shared to a level that even if I am no longer in the space, or the current people in the ministry are not there, anybody can see what Kenya went through to make the FP2030 commitments,” says Okundi.
Alenga stresses that user-friendly presentation of knowledge is important. “If the information is not attractively packaged or the language is not broken down, then the intended users will be unable to use it. Creative and innovative ways of producing and sharing knowledge and information are advised,” she says. The innovative ways include storytelling, peer-to-peer learning, documentation, and simplified and visually attractive ways of presenting data, such as dashboards where access to services or the prevalence of gender-based violence, for example, can be illustrated.
In the FP2030 Commitments, Kenya seeks to improve the availability and use of quality family planning data to aid decision making. The country further seeks to enhance the capacity of human resources for health to provide family planning services. Special attention will be paid to the under-served, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach populations, including those experiencing emergencies.
Alenga does not expect significant challenges in integrating knowledge management strategies into the implementation of the Commitments. “We received an overwhelming embrace for knowledge management. Everyone was asking for a separate training session on knowledge management. County governors were coming to us and saying, ‘Please come to my county. My people want to be sensitized on knowledge management.’ We are hopeful and excited about the embrace knowledge management received,” she remarks.
Amref Health Africa, the host of Knowledge SUCCESS in East Africa, is also the host of the East and Southern Africa FP2030 Hub. Alenga observes that it will support the Hub to integrate knowledge management into its activities. Amref Health Africa brings credibility to the process, and has great brand recognition in East Africa.
Okundi states that Amref has formulated a robust action plan that includes holding quarterly review meetings with the Technical Working Groups and the 47 counties to assess progress, address challenges, and share best practices. This is in addition to carrying out research to determine whether the country is on track to meeting its family planning commitments and convening a stakeholders’ conference every two years. This will allow stakeholders in the family planning space, such as civil society organizations, development partners, and counties, to report back on their progress while documenting the process.
“We learned that to ensure a robust knowledge management framework, it pays to have an entity separate from the Ministry of Health to document and monitor the process. The Ministry will ensure that there are policies or guidelines, but nobody may be interested in documentation, for example. If you leave this responsibility to the Ministry, many of the critical aspects are bound to fall through the cracks,” says Okundi.
Alenga observes that involving stakeholders at all levels within the family planning and reproductive health space helps practitioners avoid obstacles to implementation. “Sometimes one suggests a good idea, but it is not practical or realistic on the ground. The involvement of county government officials, who are the implementers of the Commitments, was crucial because if a document comes to them and they do not understand it or cannot connect it to the realities on the ground, they are not bound to own it. But if they understand it because they were involved in the process of developing it, it becomes easier for them to implement,” she says.