Health Policy Project-Population Weekends survey aimed at gathering information on the potential of Population Weekends to influence Malawian’s perceptions and opinions on family planning from a religious perspective.
"Population Weekends” are “district-wide events held on a designated weekend, where churches and mosques in the target district mobilize to disseminate information and hold discussions with congregants during Friday (Muslim), Saturday (Seventh Day Adventists), and Sunday (Catholics and other Christians) religious services.”The Population Weekends were instituted against the background that messages would reach a significant proportion of the population within a district since 97% of Malawians belong to a religious body. In addition to Thyolo and Salima, Population Weekends gatherings had previously been conducted in Kasungu, Lilongwe, Karonga, and Balaka.
The study was conducted in two phases. The initial phase was carried out in March 2015 in the selected districts of Salima in the Central region and Thyolo in the Southern region. A sample of 1200 respondents was randomly drawn with half from each district. The follow up phase was conducted a month later in the very same districts and a similar sample was again randomly drawn.
A comparative analysis of the data from both phases revealed that Population Weekends have little impact on the perceptions of ordinary people with regards to adoption of family planning methods. Among other things, the study recommended that a mix of initiatives would be ideal for improved family planning adoption in Malawi.
The study team comprised of Dr. B Dulani, Principal Investigator; Professor BlessingsChinsinga, Fieldwork Operations; and Joseph Chunga, Associate Research Fellow.