The Population Reference Bureau provides periodic highlights of recent activities among its portfolio of projects. We greatly value all of our sponsors and strive tohighlight the newest and most recent project activities. However, we will not likely report on all projects in every edition.
IDEA Project (USAID)
Ending Child Marriage
Released in April, a new policy brief explores trends in child marriage and the benefits of delaying marriage. Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child Marriage, examines promising approaches in developing countries to end child marriage and provides recommendations to advance policy and advocacy efforts. PRB analysis of the latest data provides new figures on the number of child brides ages 10 to 14. A fact sheet highlighting key points was also prepared for journalists. The policy brief has recently been translated into French.
As part of the web launch for the policy brief, PRB conducted an audio interview with the Honorable Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and member of The Elders, in which she talked about why child marriage violates human rights and how the practice can be addressed and changed.
In addition, PRB hosted a Discuss Online featuring Dalia Al-Eryani, former program coordinator for the “Safe Age of Marriage Project,” who answered questions from participants about the challenges and opportunities in changing community attitudes and behaviors about child marriage in Yemen.
Family Planning and Poverty Reduction, Multimedia Presentation
For the past three years, PRB has developed and delivered dynamic, multimedia presentations to engage global leaders and country-level policymakers in issues related to family planning and reproductive health. Under the USAID-funded IDEA project, PRB is developing a series of ENGAGE presentations that examine the relationship between family planning and the Millennium Development Goals.
The first presentation, “Family Planning: Pathway to Poverty Reduction,” seeks to improve individuals’ understanding of how family planning contributes to economic growth and poverty reduction at the family, community, and national levels, and to reposition family planning higher on national and local policy agendas in sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation is designed to promote policy dialogue on the health and economic benefits of family planning and presents family planning as a cost-effective, high-yield intervention. Target policy audiences include government policymakers, civic and religious leaders, health sector leaders, program officials, family planning advocates, and journalists.
Policy Fellows’ Writing Skills
Manisha Tharaney, a former Policy Fellow from 2010-2011 currently attending Tulane University, recently shared her policy brief on improvements in maternal and child health in Rwanda with the country’s Ministry of Health. As a result, the ministry has invited her to work with them to develop the brief into a co-authored manuscript. The policy brief was written as part of the PRB Policy Fellows program, which tasks participants to prepare three 4-to-6 page policy briefs and an oral presentation for policy audiences, based on their dissertations or related research topics. During the year, Fellows receive feedback from PRB staff on the policy briefs they write.
Earlier this year, another former Policy Fellow, Meeta S. Pradhan, from the class of 2009-10, also authored a policy brief, Keeping Girls in Schools and Delaying Early Marriage in Nepal, which was published by her organization, the Institute for Social and Environmental Research in Chitwan, Nepal.
African NGOs Work With Media
PRB recently conducted two workshops for local NGOs in Dakar, Senegal, and Bamako, Mali, to reinforce their capacities to work effectively with the media. The workshops were designed to help participants understand the benefits of working with the media, give them a deeper understanding of how the media works in general and of their local media landscape, and learn how to develop messages and effectively transmit them to the media for accurate coverage. Most of the participants had little or no experience working with the media; this workshop provided one of their first opportunities.
Both workshops were co-facilitated by a Senegalese journalist/media consultant and PRB staff. Several local journalists also took part in the trainings as discussants and helped give NGO participants an in-depth understanding of their work. In Bamako, three Malian journalists assisted, using the tools of their trade—a recorder and video recorder—to help participants practice their newly learned interviewing skills. Oral evaluations at the end of the Bamako workshop revealed that participants were especially enthusiastic about getting this real-life experience. Across the board, participants appreciated the opportunity to work closely with local journalists and gain a better understanding of their local media.
Kenya Policy Communication Workshops
With IDEA support, PRB’s partner in Kenya, the National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development (NCAPD), brought together 20 local researchers and program staff for the “Communicating Population and Reproductive Health Information and Effective Interventions to Policymakers” workshop in Nairobi. From April 3-15, participants from a variety of local agencies and organizations were trained on how to communicate the policy implications of their research and programmatic results to policymakers and the media.
PRB has collaborated with NCAPD to provide the policy communication trainings in Kenya since 2005 to help local participants convey their population and family planning results to decisionmakers. In May, a follow-up “Knowledge to Practice” policy communication workshop survey and meeting were conducted with former participants to learn more about how they have used the knowledge and skills they acquired. Both activities demonstrated that participants have used the skills they obtained to communicate with policymakers, the media, and other stakeholders in a variety of ways. Among the many positive comments, one participant said: “This was one of the best and most useful workshops I have attended. I learned a lot during the course and despite that I completed the workshop in May 2005, the lessons are still vivid. I use the skills I learned to advocate for priority reproductive health issues…”
New Advocacy Materials for Kenya
In June, NCAPD launched the Kenya Population Data Sheet 2011 in Nairobi. Produced in collaboration with PRB, the data sheet portrays the latest national and regional demographic, health, and environment data in Kenya with a summary of the findings. Also launched were three policy briefs, produced by NCAPD with support from IDEA, that focus on family planning as a development priority in Kenya, including: Family Planning: A Best Buy to Achieve Kenya’s Development Goals; Contraceptive Use and Family Planning Services: Opportunities for Improvement Under Kenya’s New Constitution; and Kenya’s Youthful Population: Prospects and Policy Implications for Vision 2030. The data sheet and the policy briefs are being disseminated with IDEA support throughout Kenya.
The data sheet is available at: http://www.ncapd-ke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166:kenya-population-data-sheet-2011&catid=66&Itemid=61
Informing Members of Malawi Parliament
As part of its USAID Africa Bureau media work, PRB sponsored a June workshop in Malawi that brought together members of Parliament (MPs) with journalists and representatives of various stakeholder organizations on the advantages of integrating family planning and HIV care and services. This workshop followed three workshop/study tours for journalists in various regions of Malawi on this topic. The workshop’s objective was to provide information, including the journalists’ observations on their site visits, to members of Parliament. Participants included six MPs who sit on family planning, HIV, and communications-related committees; three Parliament staff on these committees; nine journalists; and representatives of UNFPA and other stakeholders.
Benjamin Canavan, director of the U.S. Embassy’s public affairs section, opened the workshop with an informative keynote address that made a strong case for integration. The workshop was successful in informing MPs on the issues as well as in bringing MPs together with journalists and family planning and HIV experts in a forum supporting communication that can lead to informed policymaking.
Women’s Edition Goes to Ethiopia
In June, PRB took its 12 Women’s Edition journalists to Ethiopia to explore a wide range of reproductive health and gender issues. The week included site visits to two inspiring integrated population, health, and environment projects—one in the rural Oromia region and one on the outskirts of Addis Ababa; tours of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and a cervical cancer screening site at St.Paul’s Hospital; an informative briefing by Pathfinder on its innovative training of health extension workers throughout the country to insert the contraceptive implant Implanon; and a number of editorial sessions on how to improve reporting of reproductive health issues, including the use of data. The senior journalists from countries throughout Africa and Asia also had an opportunity to meet with nine Ethiopian women journalists to exchange experiences and story ideas. Before even leaving the Addis airport, stories and ideas had been generated for columns, broadcasts, and social media opportunities to communicate their new knowledge.
PRB Multimedia Presentation Kicks Off International Conference
In June, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition hosted a high-level, international conference, “Access for All: Supplying a New Decade for Reproductive Health” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, gathering about 350 reproductive health leaders from 40 countries. The event marked the 10th anniversary of the 2001 Istanbul conference, “Meeting the Challenge,” which gave rise to today’s global reproductive health commodity security movement.
PRB was invited to create an ENGAGE multimedia presentation to kick off the first session, which was dedicated to celebrating progress over the last decade, as well as discussing remaining challenges and the key priorities for the next decade. “RH Commodities: Meeting the Challenge of a New Decade,” presented by Sheila Macharia from USAID/Kenya, garnered excellent reviews and numerous calls to make it available for presenting to various donors and at other international conferences, such as the upcoming family planning conference in Dakar (November 2011). The presentation content served as a springboard for the conference, with many references to priority points in the presentation throughout the two-day event.
The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
Update on PopPov Activities
Planning is underway for the Sixth Annual PopPov Conference to be held in Accra, Ghana, Jan. 18-21, 2012. PRB and co-host, the University of Ghana, are working with a steering committee on the scientific program. The Call for Papers for the conference is now posted on the PopPov website (www.poppov.org).
PRB is working with the Research Councils of the UK (ESRC), the Netherlands (NWO-WOTRO), and Norway (RCN), in collaboration with the Hewlett Foundation, to develop a joint call for research proposals on the relationships between population dynamics, reproductive health outcomes, and economic development. This call is a follow-up to previous calls of the joint schemes that ESRC, NWO-WOTRO, and RCN have developed separately and co-funded with the Hewlett Foundation. The current call is designed to fill in the gaps in current research in the field of population, poverty, and development. The call will be posted on the PopPov website.
Journalists Link Communication and Health/Development Goals
PRB sponsored seven journalists from Malawi, Uganda, and western Kenya to participate in a two-day workshop and three-day Conference on Health and Development Communication in Nairobi in June. PRB collaborated with Internews-Kenya to host the workshop for the sponsored journalists and 20 Nairobi-based reporters, who received instruction on computer-assisted reporting. They also brushed up on their math skills and learned that understanding numbers can help them find good stories in research and data. The conference included presentations and discussions on the importance of communication in meeting Africa’s health and development goals. Following the conference, one of the Malawian journalists reported that she intends to start a health desk at the radio station she manages to ensure that these issues get the attention they deserve.
Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs
A new report looks at young people across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the challenges they face in their transition to adulthood, specifically their sexual and reproductive health—a culturally sensitive topic for societies in MENA. Facts of Life: Youth Sexuality and Reproductive Health in the Middle East and North Africa highlights the urgency of acknowledging and addressing the needs of young people for sexual and reproductive health information and services. A few countries in the region are rising to this challenge, but many are still struggling.
Call for Workshop Applicants
PRB, in collaboration with the Building Reproductive Health Capacity Project, a joint collaboration between Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) in the United States and the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine of Assiut University in Egypt, are accepting applications until July 30 for a policy communication workshop to be held in Hurghada, Egypt, from Oct. 1-7, 2011. The workshop is funded by the Ford Foundation office in Cairo and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at JHSPH.
The workshop is intended for researchers working in the area of youth sexual and reproductive health issues in the MENA region, especially those from Egypt, and is designed to help bridge the gap between researchers and decisionmakers. The goal of the workshop is to increase the use of data and information on effective interventions for the improvement of policies and programs. In an active and participatory setting, participants will explore research-to-policy gaps, learn about the policy process and barriers to the effective use of research, identify the policy implications of their own research, and prepare a policy-oriented presentation.