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)
PRB ENGAGEs the African Union
PRB’s ENGAGE presentation on the demographic dividend, along with other USAID-funded efforts, succeeded in convincing African Union finance ministers that immediate health and educational investments are needed to slow fertility if they hope to reap a “demographic dividend” in the decades ahead. The ministers called for such investments in their final statement of commitment that concluded the 6th Joint Annual Meetings of the UN Economic Conference for Africa and the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance that took place in Côte d’Ivoire. The March 20-26 meetings focused on the need to industrialize Africa and provide much-needed jobs for the continent’s growing number of young people.
A PRB ENGAGE multimedia video on the demographic dividend was presented to financial experts who accompanied and made recommendations to the ministers. The presentation, delivered by Dr. Sheila Macharia, senior health manager at USAID/Kenya, explained that the chain of events for accelerated economic growth begins with lowering fertility, nourishing and educating children, and providing jobs. PRB received many requests for copies of the video. PRB also supported a side meeting organized by the Gates Institute for Reproductive Health that spelled out the social and capital investments that Africa will need for youth employment and economic growth. For this event, PRB authored three policy briefs and produced a total of five on various aspects of the demographic dividend.
PRB sponsored eight journalists from East and West Africa to cover the conference. Before the meetings began, Jay Gribble, vice president of International Programs at PRB, briefed this group and a dozen other journalists on the structural changes in the population, including reduced fertility, that must occur before a potential demographic dividend can be realized. The journalists reported for media outlets in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.
Zero Tolerance Day
Feb. 6, 2013, marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Under the USAID-funded IDEA project, PRB joined USAID and the U.S. State Department as a key organizer of the event. Drawing on our years of working for the abandonment of FGM around the world, PRB identified and sponsored some of the panelists, and provided data and materials (www.prb.org/Articles/2013/ fgm-zero-tolerance-2013.aspx). The panel was hosted by Ambassador Melanne Verveer and featured such well-respected global advocates as Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States; Dr. Nawal Nour from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; and Jessie Hexpoor from the Dutch NGO Hivos.
International Women’s Day
In honor of International Women’s Day, the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) hosted an event on March 8, 2013, featuring Ashika Gunasena, director, Program Quality and Learning, CARE Sri Lanka. The event was organized by PRB and the IGWG’s Gender-based Violence Task Force. Gunasena’s presentation, “Lessons From Sri Lanka: Ten Years of Promoting Positive Behaviors, Attitudes, Norms and Policies for Preventing Gender-based Violence,” focused on CARE’s work in Sri Lanka and how it has approached the topic of gender-based violence by working on gender norms. This relatively new program encountered societal challenges in bringing up the topic of gender and violence, but has made much progress on changing the way women and men feel about violence.
Training NGOs to Work With the Media in Kenya
In January 2013, PRB organized and facilitated the popular workshop “Training NGOs to Work With the Media” in Nairobi, Kenya. Two workshops were held with a total of 39 participants from local and international health organizations and the Division of Reproductive Health, within the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation. Workshop objectives were to have participants better understand the media and how it applies to their work; clarify the messages they want to communicate with the media; evaluate the ability of participants to interview with the media during a press conference and on camera; and build the confidence of participants to approach journalists and advocate for their work and mission through the media.
Both workshops were facilitated by a PRB policy analyst and a PRB-trained local journalist. The curriculum emphasized interactive sessions that provided an opportunity for group discussions, putting knowledge to practice through mock press conferences and interviews. Additional exercises required attendees to think critically about the work they do, and the evidence-based messages they would like to send to the public to advocate for more attention to the problems they are trying to improve. The participants were given opportunities to write press releases, identify key messages to share with the public, create a strategic media communication plan, and learn about the benefits of social media and op-ed pieces.
Since the workshop, a number of participants have received media attention. After submitting a press release, a participant from FOCUS Kenya, a local NGO responding to the impacts of HIV/AIDS, secured a feature news story on GBS news, a Christian broadcasting station in Kenya. Another participant from Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi had three articles published in different outlets: The Standard Extra, The Daily Nation, and a local business magazine, Small Medium Enterprises Today. The workshop evaluations revealed that the sessions on how to prepare a press release and interviewing during a press conference were the most valuable skill-building activities. Participants also requested PRB to expand this training by at least a day to allow more time for exercises and discussions and to include an in-depth session on social media.
Policy Communication Workshop in Malawi
PRB, in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Health, College of Medicine, Malawi, organized and facilitated a two-week policy communication workshop in Blantyre, Malawi, Feb. 11-22, 2013. The workshop hosted 14 participants from a variety of government and nongovernmental organizations working in population, family planning, and reproductive health. Workshop objectives included understanding how research results inform the policy environment, identifying and communicating the policy implications of their research, and learning various ways to communicate findings to policy audiences.
During the workshop, participants learned the skills necessary to effectively communicate research results to policy audiences. The workshop began with discussions and exercises aimed at understanding the gap between research results and policy, why the gap exists, and how it can be overcome. Participants also received training in different ways of communicating research results to nontechnical audiences, including exercises and sessions on writing policy-relevant material, effectively using PowerPoint to communicate research results, and making oral presentations.
Overall, participants thought the workshop was a valuable compliment to their current knowledge and experience in policy advocacy. Evaluations revealed that participants found the sessions on concrete skills-building—such as using PowerPoint, presentation skills, and developing a press release—to be the most valuable. Following the training, several participants shared feedback that they have already applied skills learned during the workshop to develop presentations.
Others reported that they have shared what they learned during the workshop with their colleagues. PRB will conduct an online survey at three and six months post-workshop to solicit feedback on how participants have used the training to communicate research and program results with policymakers.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Reducing Malnutrition in Mothers and Children in Bangladesh
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the RENEW project aims to increase commitment and resources toward the alleviation of malnutrition in mothers and children ages 0-24 months. In February, Eminence, the local implementing NGO in Dhaka, conducted a multisectoral launch of the multimedia nutrition presentation “Bangladesh on the Move.” The launch was aimed at engaging high-level officials and program officers from five local ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The event, which focused on the costs, consequences, and solutions to reducing malnutrition, was attended by more than 80 policymakers and officials from different sectors. In addition, the RENEW local team also conducted a parliamentarians’ meeting with representatives of standing committees in Parliament to discuss the types of actions they can take to strengthen nutrition programs in their respective constituencies. The presentation, available in English and Bangla, is being rolled out across the country in support of local advocacy initiatives.
Applying Multimedia Presentations As a Teaching Tool
Recently, representatives from the U.S. Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C., contacted PRB about using the RENEW Project nutrition presentation “Nutrition on the Rise.” After viewing an animated excerpt of the presentation on YouTube, Peace Corps staff felt that it would be an excellent addition to their training program for all incoming volunteers who will be working to reduce malnutrition (www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjVFqE5_qt8). Peace Corps is in the process of standardizing their training across all countries and recrafting their training materials to reflect state-of-the-art tools. As a follow up to these discussions last month, PRB has learned that the Peace Corps nutrition team has now incorporated the multimedia presentation and accompanying materials into their new global training package.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
PopPov Conference in Norway
The Seventh Annual Research Conference on Population, Reproductive Health, and Economic Development was held Jan. 23-26, 2013, in Oslo, Norway. The conference was cosponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, PRB, Fafo, and the Research Council of Norway. The meeting brought together the world’s most prominent researchers on population and economic development, with over 100 researchers and policymakers from sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, the United States, South America, and South Asia. The 18 papers presented at the conference covered technical aspects of research methodologies and findings on policy-relevant family planning, reproductive health, and development issues. Many participants attended the preconference methods workshop, which delved into panel data analysis using modeling, while others discussed various methodological issues and tools during question and answer sessions and between sessions. Current Institute of International Education Fellows attended an interactive workshop on how to communicate research to decisionmakers for evidence-based policy. A summary of the conference is on the PopPov website, www.popppov.org.