Publications Publication - Causes of short birth interval (kunika) in Bauchi State, Nigeria: systematizing local knowledge with fuzzy cognitive mapping


Reproductive Health volume 18, Article number: 74 (2021)

Une publication de Ivàn Sarmiento (McGill University) et collègues, en accès libre grâce au soutien du RRSPQ (concours de soutien à la publication 2020-2021). 


  • Ivan Sarmiento
  • Umaira Ansari, 
  • Khalid Omer, 
  • Yagana Gidado, 
  • Muhammad Chadi Baba, 
  • Adamu Ibrahim Gamawa, 
  • Neil Andersson 
  • Anne Cockcroft

Authors' plain summary

For people in Bauchi State, northern Nigeria, kunika describes a short interval between successive births, understood as becoming pregnant again before the previous child is weaned. They recognise it is bad for children, mothers and households. We worked with 12 communities in Bauchi to map their knowledge of the causes and protective factors for kunika. Separate groups of men and women built 48 maps, and government officers at local and state level built four maps. Each group drew two maps showing causes of kunika or of no-kunika with arrows showing the links between causes and the outcome. Participants marked the strength of each link with a number (between 5 for the strongest and 1 for the weakest). We combined maps for women, men and government officers. We grouped similar causes together into broader categories. We calculated the overall influence of each category on kunika or no-kunika and produced summary maps to communicate findings.

The maps identified the strongest causes of kunika as frequent sex, not using modern or traditional contraception, and family dynamics. Women indicated forced sex as an important cause, but men focused on lack of awareness about contraception and fear of side effects. The maps of protective factors mirrored those of the causes. The groups who created the maps approved the summary maps. The maps showed the complex causes of kunika in Bauchi. Promoting contraception is unlikely to be enough on its own to reduce kunika. The summary maps will help local stakeholders to co-design culturally safe ways of reducing kunika.