The Population Reference Bureau provides periodic highlights of recent activities among its portfolio of projects. We greatly value all of our sponsors and strive to highlight the newest and most recent project activities. However, we will not likely report on all projects in every edition.

IDEA Project (USAID)

“Engaging” The President of Burkina Faso

Under IDEA, PRB, in collaboration with the National Council for Population (CONAPO) in Burkina Faso, produced an innovative multimedia presentation, which became the keynote address at the recent international conference, “Population, Development, and Family Planning in West Africa: An Urgency for Action,” held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Feb. 8-10. Attending were country teams comprising governmental and nongovernmental representatives from eight francophone West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo). The president of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Blaise Compaoré, officially opened the conference, which provided a forum for country teams and donors to jointly identify concrete solutions to meet the need for family planning and generate commitment to family planning programs for reinvigorated actions in West Africa.

During the opening session, which the president attended, Delphine Barry, the permanent secretary to CONAPO, narrated a PRB-ENGAGE multimedia presentation, Burkina on the Move, using Trendalyzer (bubble graphs) and other advanced technologies. In a passionate delivery, she spoke about the importance of family planning in reducing poverty, improving women’s health, and being a “best buy”—every dollar invested in FP results in $3 saved in health and education expenditures. She concluded by declaring triumphantly to President Compaoré that Burkina Faso is indeed emerging (his campaign slogan) and “we can do this.” The president, visibly impressed, shook Madame Barry’s hand following her presentation.

The next day, President Compaoré contacted Madame Barry and asked her to bring a delegation of U.S. and French government representatives, donors, and country team representatives from each of the eight countries to meet at the presidential palace for further discussions. At this meeting, which lasted 45 minutes, the president was very engaged in the issues, discussed the association between rapid population growth and its impact on economic growth, and asked for thoughts from the group. Country representatives largely urged him to talk to their presidents. At the end of the meeting, he pledged his continued leadership in Burkina Faso and agreed to provide leadership on these issues at the regional level.

International Family Planning Conference

Under IDEA, PRB sponsored 14 journalists from West Africa to cover the international family planning conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in February. PRB also ran the conference press center and set up press briefings for the PRB journalists and other journalists who covered the conference. The 14 journalists produced nearly 70 print and broadcast stories during and immediately following the conference. This media coverage in all the participating countries meant that francophone West African audiences had access to information on the family planning conference and, in some cases, to daily reports on their delegations.

International Women’s Day, March 8

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, PRB released The World’s Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet. This wallchart presents the latest data on the socioeconomic status of women and girls in more than 180 countries, with a focus on demography, reproductive health, education, work, and public life. A special section on overcoming barriers to gender equality is also featured.

Copies of the data sheet were widely disseminated at the CARE annual conference, the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) plenary meeting, the Commission on the Status of Women, and at commemorative events sponsored by the Pan-American Health Organization and the International Center for Research on Women. Copies were also mailed to PRB’s international mailing list of nearly 12,000 policy influentials and announced over various listservs. The PRB website that week highlighted International Women’s Day and included an audiocast interview with Nafis Sadik, former executive director of UNFPA; a web article; blog post; fact sheet; and PowerPoint presentation.

The 13 journalists participating in PRB’s Women’s Edition program produced a variety of newspaper supplements, stories, commentaries, and special broadcast programs for their media houses in 12 developing countries to mark International Women’s Day. PRB posted some of their work on its website, including an eight-page section that appeared in The Nation in Malawi, commentaries that ran in newspapers in Nigeria and the Philippines, and a story and slide show of a recent trip to a remote district in Pakistan to celebrate the success and courage of women. Women’s Edition members also produced supplements for newspapers in Kenya and Zambia, aired special radio programs in Liberia and Rwanda, and launched a two-week campaign on one of India’s leading TV channels to draw attention to violence against women. 

To request a print copy, contact

IGWG Holds Plenary Meeting

Attended by nearly 100 representatives from NGOs, funders, and multilaterals, the IGWG plenary meeting on March 10 was timed yo celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the launch of The World’s Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet. Organized by PRB for the IGWG, short presentations were selected on topics that included gender discrimination and maternal health in India, male involvement in emergency contraception in Ghana, natural family planning use and couples’ relationships, and polygamy and its impact on women’s health in the Niger Delta. The keynote presentation was given by Karen Hardee, senior visiting Fellow at PRB, on her fascinating work under a USAID-funded project in Afghanistan: “Developing a National Gender Strategy for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health.”

New Summary Report From IGWG

A Summary Report of New Evidence That Gender Perspectives Improve Reproductive Health Outcomes is a follow-up to the widely acclaimed 2005 So What? report, and offers clear evidence that integrating gender into reproductive health interventions improves outcomes. Funded by USAID and produced under PRB’s BRIDGE and IDEA projects, this new summary provides examples across the most challenging areas—unintended pregnancies, maternal health, STIs and HIV/AIDS—and includes cases that address harmful practices and youth. 

This publication is available on the IGWG website, To request a print copy, contact

Commemorating Zero Tolerance Day

PRB commemorated the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) on Feb. 6 through a virtual event package at the top of its home page. The collection included the wallchart, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends, 2010 Update; an updated PowerPoint presentation; web article; and an audiocast interview with Kakenya Ntaiya, a well-known advocate for educating girls and ending FGM/C and child marriage. In the interview, Ntaiya discussed the opportunities that come with education for girls in her community, the effects of early marriage on girls’ livelihoods, and how the practice of FGM/C has changed in Kenya. In addition, PRB hosted a Discuss Online featuring P. Stanley Yoder, social anthropologist and senior research specialist at ICF Macro. His discussion focused on the role of the Demographic and Health Surveys in tracking the prevalence of FGM/C in Africa, what information is collected through the FGM/C questionnaire module, and how the module has changed over the past 20 years. 

Senegal Study Tour on Early Marriage 

In February, PRB organized a study tour for journalists on early marriage in southern Senegal. During the five-day tour, the journalists visited clinics, schools, and adolescent reproductive health programs in the Kolda region, where early marriage rates are among the highest in the country. After the study tour, the journalists produced print and broadcast stories on early marriage that attracted national attention. The most talked-about coverage was a front-page story on Senegal’s stateowned newspaper. It included a two-page spread with photos and illustrations and interviews with the governor of the region, clinic staff, school officials, and high school students. The journalist said she received many calls from people who said they had not known how common early marriage is in southern Senegal and that people were shocked by the information. They learned that in one town more than 100 girls between ages 10 and 15 were married in one year and that many more cases had certainly gone unreported. The school dropout rate for girls is also extremely high in the region: Of about 50 girls enrolled in one school in 2007, 45 had dropped out within three years and, according to a school inspector, two-thirds of the girls had left school because of early marriage.

The media attention also earned the thanks of the governor of the region. His assistant called one of the journalists to say that the radio broadcasts in local languages about Kolda’s high rates of early marriage had provoked public discussions and that local women had recently formed a new organization to combat early marriage.

Policy Fellows Class Concludes at PAA

Fellows in PRB’s 2010-2011 Population Policy Communication Program concluded their program of activities with a two-day workshop prior to the Population Association of America’s annual meeting, March 29-30. The 16 Fellows made formal policy presentations based on their research that were discussed and critiqued by an expert panel.

At a two-week workshop held at PRB in June 2010, the Fellows received training in a variety of techniques to communicate research findings to policy audiences, including how to identify the policy implications of their research, tailor the message to the audience, communicate more effectively with the media, and give a formal policy presentation. Over the past nine months, the Fellows have applied these lessons to carry out research and prepare three policy briefs.

Thirteen Fellows were supported by the BRIDGE and IDEA projects, and three by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The next class of Fellows will begin in August 2011.

William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

Science Café
s in Kenya and Uganda

PRB is bringing journalists together with researchers in Kenya and Uganda in forums called Science Cafés in an effort to strengthen reporting on development research. Two Science Cafés have been held in Nairobi so far, the first on cancer and the second on food security. The forums are designed as informal sessions, held at a popular restaurant, where journalists and researchers can talk about important issues that are under-covered by the news media. The Science Cafés have served both to inform journalists and to help researchers and scientists to understand the media’s needs. To complement the Science Cafés, PRB will also hold workshops to build the math skills of journalists to help them understand and report on research.

In the first Science Café, several doctors discussed with a small group of journalists how Kenya’s public health system was ill-equipped to handle cancer diagnosis and treatment. One of the doctors mentioned that a bill before the parliamentary health committee would make funding available for cancer treatment in all hospitals and would establish a government-funded institute that would research which cancers were prevalent and in which areas of the country. The journalists said they were unaware of the bill, and because the legislation had no champion it remained stalled in committee. The discussion led to a suggestion that the doctors should get the minister for medical services, who at the time was being treated in California for prostate cancer, to speak up for the bill. Little more than a week later, the minister returned to Kenya and declared his support for the bill, urging the health committee to speed action on it; the media carried the story, injecting new life into the bill.

PRB’S Expanded Role in PopPov

Since being awarded a planning grant from the Hewlett Foundation late last year, PRB has stepped into the role as the secretariat of the PopPov Network. PopPov is a global research initiative supported by the Hewlett Foundation and the Research Councils of the UK, the Netherlands, and Norway to support research that helps explain the relationships between population dynamics, reproductive health outcomes, and economic development, while strengthening north-south research partnerships. In our new capacity, we are providing oversight of the research agenda, managing the website ( and other dissemination activities, and providing administrative oversight. To expand the reach of the network, PRB recently conducted video interviews with some of the researchers that will be posted on the website.

In addition, PRB will organize the 2012 annual PopPov researchers meeting in Accra, Ghana. Four PRB staff members attended the 2011 annual meeting in Marseille, France, to meet researchers and become familiar with the network.