In Northern Nigeria, women are often significantly poorer than men. They have little access to education, are predominantly confined to domestic activities and have few economic opportunities. Causes of maternal death are thereby associated with cost of health care, gender-based violence, women’s low status and their lack of economic independence and decision making power.
This incredibly interesting presentation looked at the formation of “savings and loans clubs” in which women of reproductive age and older engaged in a group lending approach. For example, members of the 20 Tallafi Mata Masu Dubara (TMMD) clubs operated and maintained two major savings portfolios every week on a regular basis. The first savings was collected for paying small interest bearing loans to their members and the interest charged ranged from 5 to 20 percent. The second savings was collected for emergency obstetric and newborn care and did not attract an interest because it was meant to solve emergency health problems for pregnant mothers and their newborns. Any member of the club that needed financial assistance for emergency obstetric and neonatal care made her intention known during the regular meetings.
A true success
The activities of the loan clubs showed that individuals and groups within communities can contribute significantly to reducing complications associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery. The strategy of operating the loans clubs is to recognize the ability of women to access resources needed in reducing maternal mortality and improving facility based service utilization in Northern Nigeria. Also, involving women in identifying pregnancy related problems and mapping out strategies to address problems is one approach that can be replicated in other areas with high maternal and newborn mortality.
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By: Tunde Segun
Co-Authors: Samaila Yusuf, Emmanuel Otolorin and Gbenga Ishola