Alternative Rites of Passage
Ending female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) in Kajiado County, Kenya, through alternative rites of passage (ARP) and improved access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
An alternative for girls at risk of FGM/C
In Kajiado County, Kenya, female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is commonly practised as a rite of passage for girls as they transition into womanhood - with life-changing consequences. Girls who have undergone FGM/C are generally considered ready for marriage, and before long they fall pregnant while still children themselves - forcing them to drop out of school and changing the course of their lives forever.
Amref Health Africa has been working with Maasai communities in Kajiado for more than a decade to establish Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) that still celebrate the cultural milestone of entering adulthood, without causing girls physical or emotional harm.
In June 2020, with generous support from The Rabelais Trust, Amref commenced a new project to tackle FGM/C in Kajiado County. Between 2020 and 2023, the integrated ARP-WASH Model project will support girls with alternatives to FGM/C, improve their Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) knowledge and improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. By 2024, we aim to support 1,500 girls at risk of FGM/C, early marriage and teenage pregnancy, and reach at least 3,000 people with safe water.
Despite the challenges faced due to COVID-19, we have already seen significant positive change in Kajiado since beginning the project in June 2020. In July 2021, the first CL-ARP training and ceremony was held in Meto village, enabling 300 adolescent girls to graduate into womanhood without the cut. To date, school outreach sessions have supported 1,755 girls and boys to understand their sexual and reproductive health and rights and break the stigma associated with FGM/C.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve WASH practices, one water source and 60 handwashing stations have been installed, benefitting an estimated 9,084 people across schools, health facilities and communal water points. A community-owned approach is being implemented to maintain the waters sources and ensure they remain functional beyond the end of the project.
CL-ARP Impact Study Findings
Amref Health Africa recently commissioned an independent impact evaluation to establish the impact of CL-ARP in Kajiado County on FGM/C, Education, Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) and Teenage Pregnancy over a 10 year period. It found that:
Community acceptance and support for CL-ARP is also being built through the training of local administrators and inter-generational community dialogues, which have reached 1,132 community members.
Rachael Resiato, a community advocate against FGM/C from Meto who attended the ceremony, describes what Amref’s support has meant to her:
Amref has given me an opportunity to air my voice in different forums advocating for the rights of girls. Trainings I have received have helped me to give courage to other uncut girls to come out, making my community see uncut women as women who deserve respect and who are living a normal life.
Amref’s mobile-learning platform, Leap, is being used throughout the project. Training content has been developed for 90 Community Health Workers (CHWs) who will each be assigned to a village to monitor and report any instance of violence against women or girls. CHWs will also be instrumental in ensuring continued and effective use of handwashing stations.
Amref Health Africa UK would like to thank The Rabelais Trust for making this project possible.