United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

“Knowledge as a Chance” – Awareness program on family planning and sexual/reproductive health in West- and East Africa

Aktion Regen, Association for Development Cooperation (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    AKTION REGEN was founded by the well-known gynaecologist Dr. Maria Hengstberger in 1989 and has been working in the field of family planning for 30 years. AKTION REGEN carries out an educational and training program in East- and West Africa and qualifies multipliers, so called RAIN WORKERS, who are educated on the following content: • Family planning • Sexual and reproductive health • Mother-child-health • HIV/AIDS • Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation • Women-children-human rights RAIN WORKERS are people already working in healthcare or the social sector. They pass on the knowledge to the people with whom they work on a daily basis. They act as multipliers and can be active in many areas, such as in schools, health centres, youth clubs, at religious gatherings, they make home visits, work with teenage-mothers, etc.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    Our training and our outreach is centered around on the question WHY family planning. Only when people are aware that this can help them escape poverty does the question of HOW (use of contraceptives) arise. In doing so, we cooperate with national institutions, government authorities and health centers and motivate women AND men that they use modern contraceptives and to take advantage of local services. Our funding comes from private donors, national calls on development cooperation, and foundations. All projects pass through monitoring and evaluation, and beginning with 2021 we have installed studies of measurement in some projects. Our approach is highly accepted and successful since we follow a unique strategy: 1. We operate with local trainers and multipliers since they adapt the knowledge for their beneficiaries into the respective socio-cultural context. 2. Our training curriculum is subject to constant qualitative improvement and is continuously expanded by didactic and modern methods. Our RAIN WORKERS are involved in the process and they give us constantly their feedback. 3. We have developed educational tools (Big 5 RAIN TOOLS), which simply and understandably explain complex facts and break taboos: The WHY FAMILYPLANNING-TOOL explains the five basic needs of each person (Love, Health, Food & Water, Education, Peace) and how people can “take their future into their own hands”. The CYCLE TOOL “BABY NECKLACE” explains the female cycle with fertile and unfertile days, and can also be used as a natural contraceptive. The uterine model “LITTLE MOM” shows the internal sexual organs of the woman. Contraceptive methods are therefore easy to explain. The MOTHER´S HEALTH TOOL is a calendar to understand the necessity of birth spacing and emphasizes the importance of contraception during breastfeeding. Our CLITORIS TOOL shows that the clitoris is an organ, which cannot be cut!


    In 2019 160 RAIN WORKERS have conducted 958 outreach sessions and sensitized 37.143 women, men and pupils in Kenya, Ruanda, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal and Mali. Our results relate to the reduction of teenage pregnancies, an increasing use of contraceptives, and the reduction of FGM: 1. In Mathare, the slum of Nairobi, we have trained with our local partner PANAIROBI 20 teachers of 10 secondary schools between 2018 and 2019. The test among teachers before the AKTION REGEN training showed that their knowledge on family planning and sexual/reproductive health was 54%. After our training the teachers knew 86,2% and could better inform their pupils. In most schools teenage pregnancies have decreased. 2. Together with our partner KMG ETHIOPIA our RAIN WORKERS have reached 180 people (120 women and 60 men) in 6 sessions in an ongoing project between September and December 2020. After the continuously sessions 52 women started to use modern contraceptives, 16 started to use natural method with the CYCLE TOOL “BABYKETTE”, all 180 people are convinced that FGM is a harmful practice and fight against, and most women dare to speak openly about sexual and reproductive topics.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Our success lies, first of all, in the fact, that we have local multipliers who own the respective socio-cultural knowledge, know about local taboos, and therefore are able to generate convincing arguments since they are from the same ethnic group/region/country. Secondly, we work with our specific RAIN TOOLS, which take away fear and break taboos. Thirdly, we teach people WHY family planning is important and can pull them out of the vicious cycle of poverty. Then we teach HOW and which contraception is available in the region. Finally, we are interconnected with local and national authorities. Our RAIN WORKERS get financial support in form of monthly allowance, but many of them work voluntarily since they have realized the importance of their work.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Applied family planning is like no other an investment is reaching the first aim of the SDGs, no poverty, and should be a cross section of all development cooperation projects. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), gender equality and family planning are crucial in the fight against poverty. Targeted investments in education, reproductive health and women's economic rights promote sustainable development. Access to education and family planning therefore plays a crucial role. We encourage NGO´s and institutions especially in Africa, but worldwide, to adopt our curriculum to teach and train qualified local people. Only they have the key to the respective socio-cultural background of their beneficiaries and therefore can better convince them to break out traditional conceptions which are harmful (such as FGM) or oppressing women.

    Other sources of information

    Aktion Regen Webpage www.aktionregen.at Aktion Regen annual report (30 years Aktion Regen): https://www.aktionregen.at/wp-content/uploads/initiative-35_2019.pdf Presentation of Aktion Regen staff members and RAIN WORKERS, illustrating our vision for health, well-being, sustainability and equality: https://www.aktionregen.at/adventkalender-der-aktion-regen-familie-1-12… Welcome address of a RAIN WORKER in Mali. He introduces, that knowledge distributed by women has an impact on their children and subsequently on the whole population. Therefore this meeting shall be dedicated to the intercourse with children and teenage-pregnancies. https://youtu.be/o91eFqtrJ-Y

    COVID-19 Impact

    Due to Covid-19 and lockdowns all over the world, our project partners have hardly been able to conduct Rain Worker trainings, and outreach sessions could not take place as planned in many regions. But our Rain Workers have found creative strategies to overcome Corona Lockdowns and conducted Radio Sessions in Mali, for example. A negative impact due to Corona-lockdown resulted in increasing teenager-pregnancies in all our project countries. Since schools were locked, a safe place for girls was missing.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 July 2019 (start date)
    31 December 2021 (date of completion)
    Aktion Regen
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    Other beneficiaries

    Our philosophy is working in close partnerships with local NGOs and institutions (such as universities and training centers for health), and we include various stakeholders (national authorities, schools, health centers). Our beneficiaries are women, men, parents and children likewise. Our major concern is to reach the youth which comes into reproductive age. And the majority of Africas population is under 16 years. We need to reach them in order to prevent an enormous population explosion.

    More information
    Contact Information

    Ines, Aktion Regen, Association for Development Cooperation