Working with CHWs

Often in CBFP programs the service providers are community health workers (CHWs). CHWs are trusted members of the community who are trained to provide family planning services and information about reproductive health in a private and confidential setting. CHWs are linked with community health facilities, district health offices, and in some countries national ministries of health and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The provision of CBFP services and methods may take the form of visits to the client’s home, visits to the CHW’s home, or visits to a community health post. Without these CHWs, women often travel long distances to reach the nearest clinic, or they may simply do without family planning services. Although CBFP programs are traditionally implemented in rural areas, this approach is also used in urban areas where access to FP services is limited.

To ensure high-quality service delivery, CBFP programs must apply clear, stringent selection criteria when recruiting new CHWs and must have strategies in place for motivating agents to excel and retaining them for the long-term. In paid positions, financial compensation is a key tool for motivation and retention. However, many CHWs are volunteers, and non-monetary incentives, such as professional training, supportive supervision, consistent resupply of commodities and the provision of items such as T-shirt, name badge or bicycles can be effective.

This section of the toolkit contains research and guidance on good practices for recruiting, selecting, motivating, and retaining CHWs—an essential consideration for any CBFP program.