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), Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation

2011 World Population Data Sheet

The 2011 World Population Data Sheet was released on July 28, 2011, with the theme “The World at 7 Billion.” This year, a new dissemination strategy for the data sheet included a completely new “landing page” for the data sheet that shows these new pieces: a 3-minute video “7 Billion and Counting,” an interactive world map of 16 demographic variables, the Population Bulletin “The World at 7 Billion,” the data sheet, and the webinar that we held on July 28. We had 127 people attend the webinar from 21 countries.

From the July release through Oct. 20, 2011, the video has been viewed 26,000 times; the data sheet has been downloaded 38,000 times; and the Population Bulletin has been downloaded 3,500 times. The world map has been viewed 150,000 times, and visitors are accessing every feature on the map—the 16 demographic variables, the chart and map functionality, and the world region functionality. The five most-popular variables are: births, life expectancy, poverty (people living under US$2/day), population totals, and HIV/AIDS rates.

The data sheet also continued to receive media coverage in the months following the release. Several stories appeared in the African press, including The Monitor (Kampala), The Nation (Nairobi), Daily Champion (Nigeria), and East Africa Business Week.

IDEA Project (USAID)

Kenya Parliament Adopts Draft National Population Policy

At the IDEA-supported parliamentary retreat in Mombasa in July, approximately 185 Members of Parliament (MPs), stakeholders, and development partners discussed Kenya’s draft National Policy on Population 2011-2030. Attendees were given copies of IDEA publications produced with the National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development (NCAPD). One MP asked his colleagues to refer to an IDEA policy brief as he highlighted information about the economic benefits of family planning for the group. Public statements were made in support of family planning policies by both the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Minister for Planning, National Development, and Vision 2030.

At the end of the retreat, the MPs resolved to adopt the draft national policy, to ensure increased allocation of resources for population program management, to advocate for population issues at all levels, and more. The retreat was referenced repeatedly in the media. An article written by MP Kilemi Mwiria for The Standard summarized the challenges of rapid population growth presented during the retreat, and the need for political leaders to support a population policy in Kenya. With support from the IDEA project, NCAPD plans to continue leading the way with advocacy efforts for the policy so that it is passed through Parliament before the end of the year. These activities are funded through USAID’s Kenya Mission.

Kenyan Journalists Conduct Health Audits

PRB is helping journalists in Kenya assess how the counties are equipped to manage health resources under the new constitution’s devolved system of governance that will be implemented after the 2012 elections. In September, PRB’s Kenya journalism consultant took print and broadcast reporters on extended visits to two counties to conduct “health audits.”

In Nakuru County, a two-to-three-hour drive from Nairobi in the Rift Valley, the journalists saw both rural and urban areas as well as a striking imbalance between the rich and the poor. They visited a popular township on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway that is well-known as a red-light district. There, the journalists talked to sex workers about the health challenges they face, and they visited local health centers and hospitals to check on availability of services and contraceptive methods. In Kilifi County on the coast, one of the poorest areas in the country, journalists found infrastructure, education, and economic activity lacking, all of which affect the quality of health care services and access to family planning information and methods. They heard about the difficulties of recruiting staff for the health facilities, as well as cultural beliefs and misconceptions about contraception and the long distances to reach health centers. However, they also learned that a voucher program for reproductive health services is showing promise.

Seven journalists participated in each tour, and five of them visited both counties. While the reporters continue to write and broadcast what they learned in these counties, more study tours are planned. These activities are funded through USAID’s Kenya Mission.

New Activities in Malawi

The IDEA Project has been asked by USAID/Malawi to work on activities that will advance policy and advocacy efforts to prioritize population issues on the national development agenda. In September, IDEA staff traveled to Malawi to introduce the project to local stakeholders; and to identify potential partners, existing information and data sources, and capacity needs for institutional partners. During the five-day trip, PRB staff met with over 20 different organizations (donors, public sector, private sector, and media and communications) and interviewed candidates for the position of project coordinator. In each meeting, PRB and the IDEA project were introduced, and discussion focused on the main advocacy and communication issues for advancing population as part of a national development strategy. The discussions will inform the development of IDEA’s program activities in Malawi.

Staff also attended the initial meeting of the steering committee for the national conference on population and development. This meeting was hosted by UNFPA and attended by IDEA, Health Policy Project, and the Population Unit of the Division of Development Planning at the recently merged Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. The attendees discussed using the conference as a tool to position family planning on the national agenda, a strategy for addressing Malawi’s population and development.

At the end of the trip, staff met with USAID/Malawi’s deputy director of health to present a draft work plan and review next steps.

PRB Workshop Improves Policy Communication Skills

During the first two weeks of August, the 2011-2012 Policy Communication Fellows filled the conference rooms of PRB with lively conversations about their dissertation research and its policy implications. This year’s group of 11 Fellows hail from six countries on three continents (India, Ghana, Pakistan, Peru, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe), and are studying at prestigious universities in the United States and Africa. The Fellows’ research interests are as diverse as their countries of origin, ranging from the effects of rapid population growth on the provision of social services in Nigeria to the influence of social capital on child well-being in Andhra Pradesh, India.

This year, PRB introduced an exercise called the “60-second sound bite.” Good policy communicators often use this type of short speech when they only have a few minutes to speak to a key decisionmaker. For this exercise, each Fellow recorded a 60-second statement describing their current research and its policy implications. The Fellows then provided feedback to one another. Watching oneself on film can reveal a wide range of insights; Fellows noticed their own hand gestures, posture, voice intonation, and eye contact, and they could determine for themselves whether their message was successful. As the group challenged each other to improve communication skills, they formed friendships and professional relationships that will certainly extend for years to come.

PRB Policy Brief on Service Integration

PRB’s latest policy brief clearly outlines the impact of integrating family planning (FP) and maternal and child health (MCH) care. Integrating Family Planning and Maternal and Child Health Care: Saving Lives, Money, and Time makes the case that providing FP and MCH services together is a cost-effective strategy to improve the health of mothers and children, increase economic growth, and contribute to poverty reduction. The brief highlights successful project examples of integration and outlines the challenges and recommendations for policy actions.

In conjunction with the policy brief, PRB also produced three web articles. “The Challenges of Integrating Family Planning and Maternal/Child Health Services” highlights how projects have addressed barriers to integration, while the article “Performance Based Incentives Integrate Family Planning and Maternal/Child Health Services” discusses the use of performance-based incentives to link often separate health services into one cohesive system. “Integrating Family Planning and Maternal and Child Health Services: History Reveals a Winning Combination” describes the Population Council’s International Postpartum Program, which has become one of the largest family planning programs in the world; and the large-scale Population Council study, which took place in 10 countries to determine the needs, costs, and expected impact of universal integrated family planning and maternal and child health services.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Malawi Journalists Brush up on Math

In Malawi, journalists are going back to math class. PRB is providing workshops in the country’s three regions designed to strengthen reporters’ math skills and to help them find good stories by digging into data. One of the tools for this training is the newly released Malawi Demographic and Health Survey. The journalists are learning how to use statistical tools such as the DHS to provide backup information that can strengthen the stories they produce. In addition, they are using PRB’s updated Journalist’s Guide to Sexual and Reproductive Health in East Africa, which now includes indicators for Malawi. 

Similar workshops have been held in Uganda and Kenya, and in those countries journalists who have mastered basic math skills are learning to interpret research data and taking what they find into the field for more in-depth reporting on development issues. In each country, journalists are meeting with researchers and other experts at monthly Science Cafés for informal discussions on such health issues as the effect of noncommunicable diseases on developing countries, the implications of the region’s large youth population, and malaria control and the results of the new Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Reducing Malnutrition: PRB Multimedia Presentation

At the recent UN General Assembly meeting in New York, PRB, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a multimedia presentation on malnutrition, “Nutrition on the Rise.” The presentation was featured at a special all-day meeting that focused on a new global movement called SUN (Scaling up Nutrition).

The meeting, attended by 150 nutrition experts as well as ministers of health and other high-level leaders from selected developing countries, discussed the first year of progress of the SUN movement and how to strengthen action in taking the movement forward. Since increased advocacy among leaders about the consequences and solutions to malnutrition is one of the key objectives, the multimedia presentation was very well-received by audience members, with the majority giving it a 5+ during an impromptu request for rating immediately following the presentation (on a scale from “1, not good” to “5, very good”).

The presentation, created with input and support from many partners and colleagues from different sectors of the nutrition field, includes the pioneering Trendalyzer (bubble) graphics and innovative animations that depict the importance of adequate nutrition for mothers and children in the 1,000-day window of opportunity from pregnancy to 2 years of age. Many NGOs, multilateral partners, and donors—including UNICEF, the 1,000 Day Campaign, the World Health Organization, the Public Health Institute, World Vision, and the World Bank, among others—requested copies of the presentation. They believe the presentation could be used to reach new audiences with important messages about the role nutrition plays in achieving overall development goals.