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In a country like Burundi, which has one of the highest fertility rates in the world at about six children per woman, how do we overcome deep seated cultural beliefs about family planning? Can the church play a role to increase the use of family planning methods? And, if so, how?

World Relief (WR) believes empowering local churches to deliver programs and messages that support voluntary family planning in Burundi will enable families to better control their family size – allowing them to overcome negative results from too many children spaced to closely together. The project will: 1) raise awareness and educate families through community sensitization and training in partnership with local churches, the Ministry of Health, and community health workers, and 2) train 400 couples in the expanded Families for Life program as trainers, so they can train 9,600 other couples, creating a cascade effect that will exponentially saturate family planning messaging throughout the three target areas in Gitega province. Over the 3 year project period, WR will reach 120,884 beneficiaries.

WR will dig deeper to influence the beliefs and underlying social norms perpetuating high fertility. Through a variety of holistic, multi-faceted programming, WR will integrate family planning messages (e.g. improving couple relationships, joint decision making, and valuing each family member, especially girls and women) into the religious and social fabric in Burundi.

At the end of the project we will see increased gender equity in Burundian households as well as increased use of contraception. WR will have created an expanded the pool of materials that include family planning messaging, lessons, and activities to address the root beliefs that are preventing couples from practicing family planning in Burundi. These new tools also have the potential to be transfer lessons learned to other countries in which WR works, such as Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kenya.