With more than 1,000 students attending his Arabic school daily, Mallam Allaramma Auwal shapes the minds of those in his community, imparting knowledge and religious teachings.
Even though nearly 1,500 women out of every 100,000 die in childbirth in northeastern Nigeria, one thing he has never taught about is family planning.
Family planning is arguably one of the best ways to prevent maternal mortality, but a lack of overt support for it by religious leaders like Mallam Auwal has been a major barrier to its adoption.
That all changed in July 2017, when Mallam Auwal linked up with an Advocacy Core Group. Advocacy Core Groups are an initiative of CCP’s USAID-sponsored Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria project meant to leverage the influence of Nigerian religious leaders for improved health outcomes and the one Mallam Auwal attended was aimed to get him and the others to advocate for the use of modern family planning.
Mallam Auwal was skeptical. But he decided to do more research on the topic. He found scripture that supported what he was hearing from the Advocacy Core Group, that contraception can be compatible with Islam. Armed with this new information, he started promoting family planning through his school, religious gatherings and community event. He even got his wife on board.
Mallam Auwal is one of the 71 religious leaders in Bauchi state who have spoken in favor of family planning in more than 2,900 community meetings between July 2017 and December 2018. As a result, the percentage of people who visited health facilities in order to access family planning services thanks to the community health dialogues increased from 48 percent to 68 percent.