SheRises Foundation

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Navigating Sexual and Reproductive Health: Empowering Communities in Kenya’s Coastal Cities

Sexual and reproductive health is not only a matter of physical well-being; it gives way to the rights, dignity, and autonomy of a person in making informed choices about his or her body and relationships. However, sexual and reproductive health in Kenya’s coastal cities is a complex and multifaceted issue, shaped by socio-cultural dynamics, economic disparities, and systemic challenges within the healthcare system. HIV prevalence has significantly dropped in the five coastal counties in Kenya since 2007, but this has continued to affect the higher proportions of women, adolescents, and key populations. The project will strengthen delivery of HIV and reproductive health services and build the capacity of health systems in five counties—Lamu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, and Taita Taveta—over three years. In this broad-based exploration, we seek to unpack the intricate landscape of sexual and reproductive health in Kenya’s coastal regions from a wide-ranging array of sources, including policy documents, research articles, and project reports.

Understanding Sexual and Reproductive Health in Kenya:

The landscape of sexual and reproductive health in Kenya is multifarious with challenges and opportunities, reflecting the broader socio-economic and cultural context of the country. According to the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, adolescents and youth are disproportionately exposed to risks and vulnerability in the context of SRH results. High rates of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and limited access to youth-friendly services are among the key concerns highlighted in the policy framework.

In an effort to meet the challenges SRH posed to adolescents and youth, Kenya has addressed this through comprehensive policy and strategic frameworks. The National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, alongside initiatives such as the Mombasa County Adolescent and Youth Policy and Strategy, provide a roadmap for improving SRH outcomes and promoting the rights of young people, particularly in coastal regions.

Policy and Strategic Frameworks:

Challenges and Opportunities:

Despite concerted efforts in ensuring an improvement in healthcare services, the challenges faced by the communities in the coastal cities of Kenya in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) remain quite sizeable. To this effect, many studies have been conducted in this regard, which show the obstacles that people face in trying to access SRH services.

One major challenge is the stigma associated with SRH issues. In many communities, these are silent topics that relate to issues of contraception, HIV/AIDS, and sexual health, with a lot of silence or judgment. That breeds a climate of fear that makes it very hard for people to seek information or support in this regard. Another outstanding challenge is the lack of information and education concerning SRH, mostly at the adolescent and youth level. Most of these young people lack accurate and age-appropriate information relating to issues of puberty, contraceptive use, and sexually transmitted infections. It is from this vacuum that they normally end up engaging in risky behaviors with resultant poor health outcomes.

Availability of youth-friendly SRH services is also a challenge, particularly within many settings. The adolescents and youth often experience barriers each time they try to access health facilities. Those who make attempts to access health facilities face barriers such as discrimination, long waiting times, judgmental attitudes from providers, and lack of confidentiality. Youth-friendly SRH services, particularly for adolescents and young people, are still quite limited.

Also, socio-cultural factors are great determinants of SRH outcomes, especially among the vulnerable populations like the female sex workers. Studies done in Nairobi City County show how health facility barriers and entrenched socio-cultural norms affect SRH service use among these groups. Many of these workers have shunned this service due to discrimination, stigma, and fear of judgment.

Amidst these, there exist opportunities for improvement. Initiatives like the Baraza Project are very important in filling the gaps in SRH services and encouraging health. Since projects like Baraza Project have comprehensive health services, community engagement, and policy change advocacy, they have the potential to break through barriers in SRH outcomes experienced by individuals and communities in Kenya’s coastal region.

With cooperation, innovation, and a dedication to equality, stakeholders can together build a future whereby everyone, without restriction, has access to the SRH services they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Projects and Initiatives:

Several initiatives under SheRises Foundation are currently working to address SRH challenges in Kenya’s coastal cities. The Baraza project, spearheaded by SheRises Foundation, is a comprehensive health initiative aimed at improving the well-being of communities in the coastal region of Kenya, known as the Coast Province. The detailed overview of the project is as follows:

Objective and Focus Areas:

The primary objective of the Baraza Project is to enhance access to quality healthcare services, particularly for underserved populations residing in the Coast Province of Kenya. The project focuses on several key areas:

  • Maternal and Child Health: Baraza Project aims to reduce maternal and child mortality rates by providing essential maternal and child healthcare services. This includes prenatal and postnatal care, skilled attendance at birth, family planning services, and vaccinations for children.
  • Reproductive Health and Family Planning: The project places a strong emphasis on reproductive health and family planning services to empower individuals, particularly women, to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. This entails making available a wide range of contraceptive methods and promoting reproductive rights.
  • Youth Health: Recognizing the unique health needs of adolescents and young people, the project rolls out initiatives to promote youth-friendly healthcare services. This might be through sexual and reproductive health education, access to family planning, and youth empowerment programs.


Baraza Project’s approach to healthcare delivery has been all-rounded in not only clinical services but also community engagement and capacity building. The main elements of its approach are as follows:

  • Community Outreach: This is to understand the healthcare needs and preferences of the local communities, creating trust and collaboration. Community health workers are at the forefront in delivering health education, conducting screenings, and linking people to services.
  • Health Systems Strengthening: Baraza Project works to strengthen the capacity of healthcare facilities and providers to deliver high-quality, comprehensive services. This includes but is not limited to the training of healthcare workers, improving infrastructure, and ensuring the availability of essential supplies and equipment.
  • Advocacy and Policy Engagement: The project advocates for policies and strategies that support the delivery of effective and equitable healthcare services. This includes advocating for increased funding for health programs and policies that promote gender equality and reproductive rights.

Partnerships and Collaboration:

Baraza Project partners with the government agencies, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and local leaders. The partnerships will help leverage resources and expertise to maximize the impact and reach.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

The project employs robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track progress towards its goals and ensure accountability. This includes collecting data on key health indicators, conducting assessments, and using feedback from beneficiaries to inform programmatic decisions.

In summary, the Baraza Project is an effort to improve health outcomes and promote well-being in communities that reside in the Coast Province, Kenya. Through its comprehensive approach and collaborative efforts, the project aims at bringing out lasting change in the pursuit of achieving national and global health goals.

Health Policy identifies comprehensive sexuality education, access to youth-friendly services, and empowerment of the young person.

Impact of COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has further escalated SRH challenges in Kenya’s coastal cities. Research suggests that lockdowns, restrictions on movement, and disruptions to healthcare services have become hindrances to access to SRH services, especially for adolescents and vulnerable populations. A study on the impact of the pandemic on SRH in Kenya emphasizes the need for maintaining essential services and their delivery models in order to meet the needs of communities.

Empowering communities:

To address sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges in Kenya’s coastal cities necessitates a multi-faceted approach. This involves bolstering policy and legal frameworks, improving access to youth-friendly services, advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, tackling socio-cultural barriers, and integrating SRH into broader health and development initiatives. By engaging in these strategies collaboratively, stakeholders can empower communities to overcome barriers, promote informed decision-making, and enhance SRH outcomes for all individuals in the coastal regions of Kenya.

In summary, sexual and reproductive health remains a key issue in the coastal cities of Kenya, more so among adolescents, youth, and vulnerable groups. There is hope that through concerted efforts, universal access to SRH services can be attained, and the rights and well-being of all individuals can be enhanced. Working together in such areas as policy reforms, targeted interventions, and community strengthening, a better way forward will be charted to address the gaps in SRH services and nurturing healthier, more resilient, and equitable communities in Kenya’s coastal regions and beyond. By prioritizing SRH, stakeholders can strive towards the future where everyone has the freedom to make informed decisions regarding their reproductive health and live their lives without discrimination and stigma.

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