Insights into Unmet Need in Kenya


The main aim of this project is to establish the relative importance of lack of access and attitudinal resistance towards use of family planning in accounting for unmet need among different population strata in Kenya. The results may be useful for policy makers in deciding the priority that should be given to behaviour change communication or improved access/information for different socio-economic strata and different geographic regions, and also helpful to interventions to reduce health concerns and fear of side-effects, such as provision of broader method mix and better counselling. This report presents the results of the analysis using the latest DHS data.

Data from the Kenya DHS 2008/9 were used for the analysis. Women who either want no more children or don’t want a child in the next two years but are not using any method of contraception are regarded as having an unmet need for contraception.

Among 2676 exposed women, 28% had unmet need. Of these, half were classified as possessing both access and a positive attitude and a further one-third as having access but no intention to use in the future. The majority in both groups had previously used a modern method, in most cases pills or injectables. The main self-reported reason for non-use in both groups was health concerns and fear of side effects. Small minorities (6-7%) of women with an unfavourable attitude reported that they were opposed to contraception or mentioned religious reasons for non-use. Lack of access was associated with unmet need in 16% of cases and lack of information was the most common reason for non-use among these women. With the exception of the North Eastern Province where access was very limited, regional variations were minor. However, lack of access (i.e. method and/or supply source), was much more common in women with no schooling and the poorest segment than among other strata. Lack of access also appeared to be one reason why postpartum women have higher unmet need than other women.


Machiyama, K.; Cleland, J. Insights into Unmet Need in Kenya. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK (2013) 29 pp. [STEP UP Research Report]

Insights into Unmet Need in Kenya

Published 1 January 2013