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)

International Conference on Family Planning

At the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 15, PRB was involved in many activities, several of which are highlighted here.

PHE Conference

The second international Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) Conference, organized by PRB and the PHE Ethiopia Consortium, convened over two days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, around the theme “Healthy Families, Healthy Environments.” The conference, funded by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, and USAID’s East Africa Regional Office, brought together over 150 PHE implementers and advocates representing 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, and North America.

The conference aimed to inform new audiences of the PHE approach. PHE integration featured prominently in the media throughout the week, culminating at ICFP. The opening of the PHE conference was featured for two consecutive days on the front page of The Ethiopian Herald, an English-language newspaper, and was seen by many attendees at the much larger ICFP. His Excellency Belete Tafere, minister of Environment and Forestry of Ethiopia, delivered the opening message and discussed the expansion of integrated PHE efforts in his country.

Roundtable discussions served as constructive outlets for participants to learn from one another as they described current PHE efforts and identified future needs and priorities for the field. In the final plenary, Roger-Mark De Souza (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), reflected on progress since the last conference in 2007. Finally, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, executive secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), closed the conference and reported on the growing role that African institutions like LVBC will be taking in scaling up the PHE approach.

Preconference Youth Workshop

PRB participated in the International Youth Subcommittee (IYSC) in advance of the conference, including assisting with planning young people’s role and involvement at the conference. PRB also helped plan the IYSC’s Youth Preconference and participated in several activities. PRB also offered preconference training for youth participants and those working with youth via two webinar sessions in the weeks leading up to the conference.

During the preconference youth workshop, and at the request of the IYSC, PRB staff led two hour-long break-out sessions on the elements of effective public speaking. Sixteen participants from 10 countries attended the two sessions; official youth conference speakers and moderators were required to attend one of the two sessions; and participants included Dr. Catherine Baye, the opening plenary youth speaker. After an overview of the key elements and useful tips for effective public speaking, participants delivered part of their presentations in front of the group and received feedback. Discussion was lively and participants have kept in touch following the session.

ENGAGE Multimedia Training

On Nov. 14, PRB facilitated a workshop open to all conference attendees to learn about ENGAGE Presentations and how to use them in advocacy for family planning. PRB staff delivered “The Family Planning Ripple Effect: Children Survive and Nations Thrive.” Participants were introduced to the narrated video version of the presentation and the user guide materials, took turns delivering a few slides of the presentation to the group, and reviewed the Questions for Discussion and FAQ included in the user guide. Participants were also shown two narrated ENGAGE Snapshots as part of a demonstration on how to insert the shorter Snapshot presentations into PowerPoint slides. Finally, workshop participants brainstormed and discussed opportunities that they might have to use these materials in their own work, and the types of activities that might be enhanced by using an ENGAGE Presentation.

Participants received the user guide for “The Family Planning Ripple Effect: Children Survive and Nations Thrive” and a DVD with all other available ENGAGE Presentations. Approximately 15 people attended this event. The workshop was a success, and PRB is now following up with all participants as part of ongoing efforts to learn how ENGAGE presentations are used. One attendee stated that participating in this workshop was “the peak of time in Addis” for the conference.

Support and Assistance to High-Level Ministerial Meeting

PRB played a key role in planning and executing the highly successful High-Level Ministerial Meeting—conducted just prior to the ICFP. The event, which called together 356 participants from 47 countries, included 26 leaders from African ministries of health, youth, economic planning and development, and finance; 75 additional ministerial representatives; and 15 members of Parliament. The meeting served as a platform for leaders to discuss the investments in family planning and youth necessary to achieve the accelerated economic growth known as the demographic dividend. The meeting generated meaningful policy dialogue about these critical issues, as Honorable Sufian Ahmed, minister of Finance and Economic Development in Ethiopia, stated, “Africa’s young people will be the force behind our economic progress. It entirely depends on the policy and funding decisions we make now.”

The meeting opened with Dr. Sheila Macharia of USAID/Kenya delivering an adaptation of PRB’s “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend” ENGAGE Presentation to the group. One of PRB’s newest multimedia presentations, it presents a highly complex concept—the Demographic Dividend—in accessible language and visuals that resonated with the high-level policymakers (available online at www.prb.org/Multimedia/Video/2013/demographic-dividend-engage.aspx). Following the presentation, the ministers and officials engaged in a lively discussion around the issues highlighted in the presentation, with nearly all participants praising both Dr. Macharia and the presentation for its clear and valuable information.

A subsequent session featured Christelle Kwizera, a youth representative from Rwanda, who provided a youth perspective to the discussion. PRB worked with Kwizera to develop her presentation and identify key messages and data; and to refine her slides, script, and presentation style. The only youth speaker of the day, Kwizera’s poignant delivery garnered many accolades and an animated discussion from the assembled dignitaries.

Prior to the meeting, PRB served on the steering committee and led the development of materials for all participants. The materials featured two 4-page briefs about the demographic dividend in sub-Saharan Africa, developed specifically for this meeting. One brief focused on defining the demographic dividend and the investments countries need to make, while the other focused specifically on investing in youth. These briefs are available in French and English at www.fpconference2013.org. In addition, PRB provided live and continuous coverage of the meeting on social media, using Twitter to draw in participation from around the world and share the conversation from leaders.

Support to Journalists

The week before the conference, PRB brought 11 of its Women’s Edition journalists to Addis Ababa for the group’s third seminar, and six stayed to cover the conference. A Times of India article published by one of the participants, “A healthy exchange – learning from Ethiopia’s maternal care system,” drew comparisons between community-driven health programs in India and Ethiopia. While each country has its strengths and weaknesses, the article concluded that a south-south exchange could be beneficial to both countries.

In addition, PRB sponsored seven journalists from Francophone West African countries. They arrived several days early to attend a two-day workshop and a daylong site visit outside Addis Ababa. They were joined by two East African journalists PRB brought in to cover the conference. These journalists represented Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. The journalists published more than 60 articles and broadcast segments during and immediately after the conference.

Following the conference, the head of Senegal’s Family Planning Division (in the Directorate of Reproductive and Child Health, Ministry of Health) praised what he called the “wonderful work” of the journalists at ICFP. Their work also won kudos from the minister of health, who did not attend the conference but said this of the journalists: “We knew what was going on as though we were there ourselves. You are our partners and we count on you.”

16 Days of Activism

To commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (Nov. 25-Dec. 10), the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), USAID, Woodrow Wilson Center, CARE, and PRB hosted a panel discussion on Dec. 9 exploring new technologies to combat gender-based violence. Panelists discussed how these technologies can be used in various aspects of gender-based violence, from sexual assault in conflict areas to intimate partner violence in India and in the United States. Further discussion touched on the effectiveness of these technologies, ethical considerations, and actionable ways forward. The presentations and a video of the event are on the IGWG website (www.igwg.org).

PRB also helped sponsor and organize two additional events. On Nov. 26, participants convened at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for a high-level panel examining health-sector responses to violence against women and girls. Panelists discussed new policies and guidelines, research, and field-based experiences of actions taken by the health sector from Zambia and around the world. And on Dec. 4, the Technical Advisory Group of IGWG met and exchanged ideas on the results of several ongoing research projects on gender norms and child marriage.

New Data Sheet on Family Planning

PRB’s Family Planning Worldwide 2013 Data Sheet provides the latest estimates of births per woman and other indicators for 150 countries, including the percentage of women using modern and traditional family planning methods, unmet need for family planning, and use of modern contraception by wealth group. The data sheet was released to coincide with the start of the ICFP in Addis Ababa, and was distributed widely. The data sheet is available at www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2013/family-planning-worldwide-2013.aspx. French and Spanish versions are forthcoming.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

PopPov Conference Update

Preparations are underway for the Eighth Annual Research Conference on Population, Reproductive Health, and Economic Development, from Jan. 22-25, 2014, in Nairobi. PRB is collaborating with the African Population Health and Research Center and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the 2014 conference. The scientific program committee and PRB staff are finalizing the conference agenda, which includes six paper sessions, a poster session, and invited panel sessions on “Policy Perspectives on the Demographic Dividend” and “Tools for Bringing Research to Policymakers.” The agenda for the 2014 conference is online at www.poppov.org.

New Briefs on Recent PopPov Research

Under the PopPov dissemination and communication strategy, PRB recently published the research brief “Household Decisionmaking and Contraceptive Use in Zambia.” This brief presents findings and policy implications from a recent study by Nava Ashraf, Erica Field, and Jean Lee, who conducted a randomized controlled trial in Lusaka, Zambia, where unmet need remains high even though family planning services are readily available through public and private sources. They investigated the husband’s role in family planning decisions and presented evidence that couples’ behavior regarding decisions about contraceptive use produce less-than-ideal fertility outcomes.

Another brief was published on “Unmet Need and Demand for Smaller Families in Rwanda.” It summarizes findings from a paper by Dieudonné Muhoza Ndaruhuye and colleagues, providing insight into factors associated with Rwandans’ use of family planning and the country’s population dynamics. These two briefs showcase key findings from recent PopPov studies and are online at www.poppov.org/Research/ResearchBriefs.aspx.

Latest French Translations

The Hewlett Translation Initiative works to provide French speakers in West and Central Africa with additional access to materials that highlight population, reproductive health, and family planning. PRB recently updated and translated articles on family planning and contraceptive use in West Africa in addition to translating two PopPov research briefs and the PRB Population Bulletin on the demographic dividend. These materials were distributed at the ICFP in November and were well received by conference participants.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Reducing Malnutrition in Mothers and Children in Kenya

The RENEW project, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, continues to bolster efforts and political commitment to reduce malnutrition in mothers and young children. In November, PRB was invited by the Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to present the new multimedia nutrition presentation, “Nutrition on the Rise: Raising Kenya’s Future,” at the Learning Forum event sponsored by the Nutrition Technical Forum (NTF). The NTF, a key member of the Kenya Nutrition Inter Agency Coordinating Committee, hosted the forum to provide a space for nutrition partners to learn and share implementation strategies for nutrition at the county and national level. More than 100 representatives from various sectors attended the forum, including MOH officials, county nutrition officers and nutrition support officers, international and local nongovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and donors.

Participants reacted positively to the presentation, which sparked interest and demand for dissemination throughout Kenya’s 46 newly formed counties. One MOH county officer wanted to present the advocacy tool to the governor and other key county leaders to educate and inform local policymakers about the need for better nutrition efforts in the region. The multimedia presentation will be launched in early 2014.

Ford Foundation/Cairo


HIV in the Middle East

Between 2001 and 2012, the number of adults and children living with HIV in the Middle East and North Africa increased by 73 percent and the number of new infections grew by 52 percent—the highest rates of increase among world regions. A new web article, “HIV in the Middle East: Low Prevalence
but Not Low Risk,” looks at the spread of HIV in the region, as well as the role played by social and cultural norms. Online at www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2013/hiv-aids-in-middle-east.aspx.

Child Marriage Brief Now in Arabic

The recent PRB policy brief, Ending Child Marriage in the
Arab Region
, has been translated into Arabic. The policy brief presents the latest data on child marriage in the Arab region, which includes members of the League of Arab States (from Morocco to Oman). It explains how ending child marriage would help countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals that aim to combat poverty and improve health and quality of life for all. Online at www.prb.org/pdf13/child-marriage-arab-region_arabic.pdf.