Clumsy and culturally-insensitive attempts to promote use of modern contraception in conservative Muslim cultures, such as in Bauchi, have led to negative connotations of “family planning” as an externally-driven, unwelcome concept. It is important to distinguish between concepts of limiting the number of children and spacing of births. Ensuring adequate child spacing is recognized as important in Bauchi. The word kunika in the Hausa language means getting pregnant before the last child is weaned. Given the usual length of breastfeeding in Bauchi, this is equivalent to a birth interval of about 30 months.
Many published studies have linked short birth interval with adverse health consequences for mothers and their children. WHO recommends a birth interval of at least 33 months, close to the kunika cut-off interval.
Our project takes a participatory approach to understanding causes of kunika in Bauchi State, and uses this understanding to co-design a module about kunika in the home visits programme, as well as to guide other actions (for example by health services) to help women and their partners reduce kunika.