Status of Alternative Rite of Passage Projects in the fight to end FGM

A woman in Africa#ENDFGM STATUS REPORT

February 6, 2015.: Between 2009 and 2014, Amref Health Africa successfully graduated 7,361 girls into womanhood through the long running Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) projects in Kenya and Tanzania.

A rite of passage is a ritual that symbolizes an individual’s transition from one status to another. Girls in some nomadic communities in Kenya and Tanzania are initiated through circumcision which consists of cutting of female genitalia to mark their transition from childhood to womanhood.

Dr Koki Kinagwi, Acting Deputy Country Director and Head of Programmes in Kenya, says the ARP model has achieved great success between 2009-2012 and was scaled up in 2013 to include Kilindi in Tanzania.

“The Amref Health Africa ARP model is the most effective intervention in the fight to end female circumcision. The model starts with sensitizing the local community members who are the cultural elders, the Maasai morans and parents of the young girls. There are many challenges in reaching girls as many people in the community still strongly hold on to female circumcision as an important cultural practice of initiating Maasai girls into womanhood, said Dr Kinagwi.

This project requires those in the community to be change agents to succeed. There are currently 937 morans who have denounced FGM and become ARP Ambassadors within their settlements in Kenya alone. Together with the county government and Amref Health Africa in Kenya, they have transformed 92 former female circumcisers into traditional birth attendants.

“At a graduation ceremony in 2014, Kenya’s first lady witnessed 400 cultural elders and 236 religious leaders publicly denounce FGM and swear to advocate for the ARP model in their communities. Since then we have seen immense changes amongst the young men and women who are reaching out to be part of the training sessions,” says Dr Kinagwi.

A cultural exchange visit was done in December 2013 in Magadi and Loitoktok and involved cultural leaders, ex-circumcisers, youth representatives and ARP project staff from Samburu (Kenya) and Kilindi (Tanzania). They observed and worked with ARP teams and communities from Magadi and Loitoktok. After the visit, the participants from Kilindi and Samburu used their acquired knowledge as an opportunity to preach against FGM and started organizing an ARP in their own community which resulted in the first two ARPs (390 girls) in Tanzania, organized in June 2014 and one ARP (326 girls) in Samburu organized in November 2014.

The overall goal for the ARP project is to contribute to the abandonment of female genital cutting in Magadi, Samburu, Loitokitok (Kenya) and Kilindi (Tanzania) by 2016. This will be achieved by increasing awareness and knowledge of female genital cutting, increasing school enrolment, retention and transition for the girls, and increasing acceptance and support for the ARP project.

As part of the national efforts to end female genital cutting, Amref Health Africa has been implementing the ARP model in Samburu, Loitoktok, Magadi  and Kilindi with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Postcode Lottery through Amref Netherlands.

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For further media information contact:

Inga Kimaru                        Peter Ofware
Communications Officer      Programme Manager
AMREF Kenya

Editors Notes

AMREF Kenya is implementing 49 projects across Kenya’s 47 counties. The projects are organized into six thematic areas namely: HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (7 projects); APHIAPLUS IMARISHA; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (17 projects); Child and Reproductive Health (17 projects); Clinical and Diagnostics (4 projects); and Research, Advocacy and Business Development (3 projects). In 2013/2014, AMREF Kenya reached a total of 5,510,181 people with various services and interventions with total project funding of USD $ 42m.

Our vision is for “lasting health change in Africa”: communities with the knowledge, skills and means to maintain their good health and break the cycle of poor health and poverty. With a focus on women and children, AMREF works with the most vulnerable African communities to achieve lasting health change. Learn more www.amref.org.

ARP Scale Up Project is a three year regional project starting July 2013 to June 2016 that is funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery through Amref Netherlands focusing on reducing the practice of Female Genital Cutting. Genital cutting of girls is prohibited by law in practically all countries - including Kenya and Tanzania.