Safidy – The Freedom To Choose

We work with some of the world’s most isolated coastal communities to increase their access to vital health services.

In direct response to the unmet family planning and health needs of Madagascar’s semi-nomadic Vezo fishing communities, we have developed a community health programme which upholds their reproductive rights to choose freely the number and spacing of their births. This initiative is known locally as Safidy, meaning “the freedom to choose”.

In close collaboration with health partners including USAID Mikolo and Mahefa Miaraka, we train and support local women to offer community-based family planning and other basic health services within the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health’s national health system. 

These networks of voluntary community health workers offer counselling and products including condoms, contraceptive pills and injections as well as mosquito nets, water purifying solution and oral rehydration salts. They are also trained in the management of childhood illnesses and the promotion of simple health-enhancing behaviours (such as exclusive breastfeeding, hand washing with soap, etc).

They are provided with short-acting contraceptives at cost price from Population Services International, which they sell in their villages for a small income. We are currently piloting the use of smart phones to monitor and assure the quality of these services. We also partner with Marie Stopes Madagascar, whose mobile outreach teams visit our remote sites to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (implants and intra-uterine devices) on a regular basis.

Explore our service area

Nurturing health-enabling social norms

We facilitate a diverse range of peer-led community outreach activities to support critical thinking about health-related behaviours and the sustained adoption of health-enabling social norms. Interactive theatre workshops, storytelling sessions and small group discussions engage men, women and youth in topics ranging from maternal health to seaweed farming and fisheries management.

Our holistic approach fosters broad community participation, for example, opening up discussions about family planning with men by relating food security concerns to reproductive rights.

Empowering women and building resilience

We enable people to make their own family planning choices, upholding their reproductive rights while equipping them with the skills they need to manage their natural resources sustainably.

Gaining access to family planning services improves maternal and child health outcomes, allows girls to delay their first pregnancy until after they have completed their education, and affords women more opportunities to become economically active.

Couples are empowered to plan and better provide for their families; improving food security, allowing women to play a more active role in fisheries management, and bolstering local conservation efforts. Coastal communities are able to live more healthily and sustainably with their marine environment, building social and ecological resilience to climate change.

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The proportion of women using contraceptives in Velondriake increased from 10% in 2007 to

10%

in 2013

0

people served by BV’s community health programme

0

unintended pregnancies averted to date

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Working across sectors for real change

This community health programme is a key component of Blue Ventures’ critically acclaimed Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach, which addresses the interconnected challenges of unmet family planning needs, food insecurity, environmental degradation and vulnerability to climate change in a holistic way.

Having experienced the immense value of integrating community health services with our marine conservation initiatives, we are now supporting partners in Madagascar, Comoros, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Indonesia and beyond to adopt this approach.

We are advancing the development of a national PHE network in Madagascar, bringing together health and environmental organisations to facilitate cross-sector partnerships. We are offering technical advice and mentoring to various environmental organisations starting to implement collaborative PHE initiatives with health organisations including Marie Stopes Madagascar, proposing learning exchanges and training workshops, convening meetings to share experiences, producing technical resources, and collating both quantitative and qualitative results data to communicate to a variety of stakeholders.

Our community health partners

Meet our community health team

Medical Director
Exeter, UK
Health-Environment Partnerships Manager
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Community Health Programme Coordinator
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Community Health Programme Coordinator
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Safidy Support Technician
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Safidy Support Technician
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Logistics Assistant & Peer Educator
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Peer Educator & Boat Captain
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Safidy Assistant Coodinator
Belo sur Mer, Madagascar
Safidy Support Technician
Belo sur Mer, Madagascar
Safidy Support Technician
Maintirano, Madagascar
PHE Support Officer
Mozambique
PHE Support Officer
Tanzania
PHE Support Officer
Indonesia

Latest news & blogs

24
May

TEDxExeter: How listening to communities can help save our oceans

Our Medical Director Dr Vik Mohan recently spoke at TEDxExeter 2017 about Blue Ventures' holistic approach to conservation.
10
May

Blog: Is the Global Gag Rule set to undermine the foundations of community-based healthcare?

Our Community Health Programme Coordinator Nick Reed-Krase reflects on the impact that the Mexico City Policy will have on community health workers.
04
May

FHI 360: Research on integrated development ~ these are a few of my favourite things

FHI 360 have listed Blue Ventures' PHE approach as an example of promising and important integrated development in their Research & Evaluation blog.
10
Mar

Madagascar PHE Network: PHE resources launched!

Population-Health-Environment (PHE) partnerships guide and PHE story cards (an integrated PHE community outreach tool) are now available for download!

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