THE FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN’S HEALTH PRODUCTIVITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT - BAFROW
BAFROW has been in operation for 25 years and offers social services and preventive care to all members in the communities, in which they work, including men and youth. BAFROW’s model is based on a holistic and integrated approach. One of the main features of BAFROW’s approach is that its activities are designed in the context of civic empowerment, people’s participation and ownership. It is a process of transparency and accountability which involves communities taking charge in auditing their own systems and practices, their roles, responsibilities, obligations and rights as leaders and citizens in relation to an identified problem which they want to address. Thus issues of sexual and reproductive health, culture and tradition, gender equality, social development and consultative processes, participation and decision making processes are discussed in a given context and are mainstreamed in the day to day empowerment activities .and social services that are provided to them.
After it was set up, BAFROW committed the first couple of years to translating its mission and vision into programs and approaches, conceptualizing areas for program interventions, and building partnerships with the Government, NGOs, International Organizations, other institutions and individuals with similar interests, and grass root communities. It was also during this time that its program activities were developed with partner collaboration through dialogue, consultations, and research work.
BAFROW's action plan consisted of the following program areas, designed to run simultaneously:
- Health promotion and health care service delivery through it Medical Centres/Family Clinics, and Mobile clinics.
- Social and Economic empowerment of women and communities
- Gender and Environment
- Youth Empowerment and reproductive health and rights
- Action research, communication, information, documentation and dissemination and M&E
- Strengthening of health systems within the framework of BAFROW’s health programme interventions
- Actions for program sustainability
The activities in each of these program areas are synergistic and are directed to addressing the needs and aspiration of individuals and communities - based on regional, district, and village needs assessment - from a holistic, multi-dimensional, and multi-sectoral perspective to achieve good health, empowerment, productivity, and environment for all, but especially women and children. These program areas are addressed both individually and collectively as the linkages between them could cause one area to influence another positively.
A significant aspect of BAFROW’s program is to inculcate positive attitude in and promote responsible behavior and good practices among individuals and communities in the areas where we operate. Some of the strategies we use include the following:-
- Social mobilization of communities on specific, emerging or current issues
- Raising awareness on the issues
- Advocacy, IEC/BCC interventions for support and action
- Traditional communication and the mass media
BAFROW has been successful in using Participatory Rural Communication Appraisal (PRCA) to generate massive support and participation of core members of communities in the mobilization and awareness raising for social change and action. This involve processes through which communities are able to discuss, identify, analyze and understand a given problems or issue that needs to be addressed and propose possible solutions. With the help of various tools, they are able to come up with qualitative as well as quantitative information and data on such issues, while at the same time increasing their awareness, and improving their knowledge on these issues. These processes allow equal and active participation of men, women and young persons and take cognizance of cultural and gender barriers. It is through this approach that communities are assisted to design activities culminating in the various projects that form part of BAFROW’s program areas of work and taking ownership of the processes and responsibility for the results. Massive efforts are also placed on mass campaigns aimed at sensitizing communities on specific and emerging issues such as the HIV pandemic, SRH rights, immunization, epidemics, FGM prevention, prevention of obstetric fistula, need for girls’ education, etc.
The approach involves communities by allowing them to take charge in auditing their own environment, their community systems, their family and individual health practices, identify and act on their roles and responsibilities, and demand actions from relevant stakeholders at different levels of governance and operations.
BAFROW's programs are implemented in four out of five regions in The Gambia namely Greater Banjul area, Kombo Region, Western River Region, Central River Region, Lower River Region and Upper River Region.
Within the past 25 years, BAFROW has worked with over 300 communities and Grassroots Organized Groups (GOG) and Government to:
- establish five functional Medical Centres and mobile clinics, providing clinical services to over 100,000 people; Such services include Sexual and Reproductive health, HIV and AIDS prevention and care, health education and promotion, and maternal and child health care.
- launch ongoing comprehensive advocacy and awareness raising activities to accelerate the elimination of preventable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; the promotion and protection of women and adolescent’s reproductive health and rights; campaign against harmful cultural practices that affect the health of women and girls, scaling up family planning services.
- Prevention and management of obstetric fistula
- provide functional literacy and civic education for over 5000 women who are now involved in decision making processes at family, village and community levels
- scaling up on BAFROW’s community health mobilization program for the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity , and infant mortality
- establish small and medium scale enterprises and banking and savings schemes (including access to credit schemes) to 2500 direct beneficiaries (mainly women), 20,000 indirect beneficiaries
- BAFROW Organizational profile
The Foundation for Research on women’s health Productivity and the Environment (BAFROW) was founded in July 1990 and incorporated as an independent charitable trust in 1992. It is financed by income generated from actions for program sustainability by grants and donations. Its activities are directed by a ten-member board of trustees; who are the Founders and are also life members.
The programs of BAFROW are planned by a ten-member board of directors while the day to day running of the organization is by the administrative department headed by a Director. Each project component activity is planned and monitored by a technical and monitoring committee. A chairperson heads each technical and monitoring committee. The Chairpersons of the various technical committees meet regularly to discuss and share their work activities to ensure complimentarily. The meetings of the chairpersons are called the Program Coordinating Committee (PCC).
At the recipient level, local based committees are formed headed by community-based mobilizers. These committees are formed to ensure grass roots participation in all planning and decision making processes.
Functions and activities of BAFROW
- To empower communities by providing them with information, knowledge and skills through community organizations, women’s groups, on pertinent, critical and emerging issues relating to their health, their economy, their rights and their environment.
- Create awareness and sensitivity on socio-economic and political issues, facilitate groups to define issues collectively and to strategise and carry out action plans around those issues.
- Provide quality and affordable preventive and clinical health services at urban peri-urban and rural areas including mobile clinics.
- Develop action research projects based on emerging issues, identifying, documenting and preserving practices and systems that have in the past maintained healthy and conducive environment for peace, human development and for productive activities.
- Advocate and lobby for Women’s rights and the rights of children.