An ambitious goal for women’s health in Francophone West Africa
For generations, Francophone West Africa has lagged behind other developing countries in family planning: In 2011, about 57 percent of married women in developing countries around the world were using modern methods of contraception, but only about 12 percent of women in western Africa were doing the same.
Population matters. Family planning is a tool to help people maintain control over their own lives and to help countries address an enormous number of issues, including social unrest, education, employment, and the economy more broadly. But it is a tool that is not available for too many women and their families in Francophone West Africa.
The Ouagadougou Partnership was launched in 2011 with the ambitious goal to increase the users of modern contraception in its nine Francophone member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) by one million women by 2015. One million additional users may not seem an ambitious increase for large countries and regions, but for Francophone West Africa it represented an improvement of about a third over the total users in the region in 2011.
By December 2015, the Partnership had exceeded this goal by 20 percent and the number of users of modern contraceptive methods in the region had increased by 1.2 million women and girls. Now the Partnership is well on its way to meeting its next goal: to help its member countries collectively add 2.2 additional users of modern contraceptive methods between 2016 and 2020.
“It hasn’t always been easy and West Africa rarely comes to mind as a region where women and girls are flourishing. But, over the last few years, we’ve quietly achieved something great.” – Fatimata Sy, Director, Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit
Redstone has helped develop and guide the Ouagadougou Partnership since 2013, working with the dedicated OP Coordination Unit to identify and run analyses on where support for family planning may be adjusted or augmented to greatest effect; to help donors better align their funding in support of the highest-impact interventions; and to organize and run multiple conferences, visits, and meetings each year to garner support and cooperation from hundreds of different stakeholders across the region.
Redstone has also helped spearhead outreach to new family planning donors to the region: Since 2013, the Canadian and Dutch governments, and a major anonymous private foundation have agreed to join the partnership, to increase their spending in the region on family planning, and to coordinate their investments with other OP members.
While there is no guarantee that any partnership will run smoothly, over its first 7 years, the Ouagadougou Partnership has raised the bar for what might be expected from collaboration and has made enormous gains in an environment where most expected failure.