In Cameroon, women operate a unique community network known as tontines. Formed by solidarity and common interests, the tontine is a voluntary credit and thrift association that traditionally serves both economic and social functions. Tontines assemble regularly to discuss women's issues and for the members to contribute money (Rouchy 1983; Essombe-Edimo 1985). Tontines provide a unique opportunity for women to discuss health and family-planning-related issues in an environment they control. As family planning acceptors, women can advocate family planning, and the group as a whole can support new and faltering acceptors.
Two complementary research activities––a social network survey and focus-group discussions––were conducted in late 1993, to develop appropriate information, education and communication (IEC) interventions to increase the use of modern family planning methods among the members of urban women’s tontines.1 This study of women’s tontines was limited to YaoundŽ, Cameroon where family planning services are more accessible. However, by conducting the research among ten groups selected to represent the provincial and ethnic diversity of Cameroon, a range of attitudes and use of family planning could be explored.
Using focus-group discussions to explore the role of women's groups (tontines) in family-planning information dissemination in Yaounde, Cameroon