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Female Condoms in Nigeria

Within the framework of the Universal Access to female Condoms Joint Programme and its female condom programme in Nigeria, Ilze Smit  (World Population Foundation) and Monique Demenint (Oxfam Novib) visited Nigeria in March 2009.  Main focus of the visit is the Society for Family Health (SFH) as they are the main partner in the UAFC programme in Nigeria.

Objectives of this visit to SFH is to get acquainted with the programme in Nigeria, to share information on linking and learning aspects and activities on (international) advocacy as well as discuss the ongoing work and activities achieved over the first period.

Nigeria is one of the country programmes within the UAFC joint programme. The FC programme in Nigeria is currently being implemented by the Society for Family Health in three southern states; Lagos, Delta and Edo. These states are considered less conservative than the northern ones, have relatively good infrastructure and have a strong civil society, including a number of Oxfam Novib partner organisations such as LAPO, Girls Power Initiative and Baobab. It were actually these partner organisations that - based on their work in the region - were asking for FC programming. The primary target group of the project is women and men of reproductive age (respectively 15-49 and15-59). The target population in the selected states is estimated at around 10 million people, which is 50% of the total population of 20 million people in the states. The total population in Nigeria is estimated at 140 mln, the most populous country in Africa.

Female condoms are (relatively) new to Nigeria, this is the first time a large scale programme (goal is to distribute 5 million female condoms in three years) takes off in Nigeria. Distribution and promotion of female condoms will have to be subsidized and continued for a long time to come. The programme focuses on demand creation and managing the supply chain of affordable female condoms. This includes a lot of training (of trainers), information, education and communication in order to create awareness and knowledge in the three selected states as well as integrating the FC into existing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programming. The assumption of the UAFC programme is that a large scale programme will lead to increased demand for female condoms. SFH also works through the State Action Committee and other existing structures to strengthen partnership with State and National government.  

From an SFH analysis on FC programming it became clear that major obstacles in the use of female condoms in Nigeria are communication between (sexual) partners and the belief that family planning methods are insufficiently available and affordable. The relatively high cost of the female condom compared to the male condom and the low purchasing power of Nigerian women have also been identified as issues that must be addressed as part of the efforts to increase female condom use in the country. Ultimately the programme will work towards a female condom that is accepted by the general public as an ordinary commodity that enables women to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. The programme aims to make female condoms widely available at convenient places, at all times and at an affordable price.  Information coming out of the country programmes feeds into the other components of the larger UAFC programme such as international advocacy and linking and learning.




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