(November 2009) Estimates suggest that the world’s population will increase by 2 billion people by 2030, and 1.9 billion will be added to urban areas in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As the world becomes more urbanized, the number of poor who live in cramped and unsanitary conditions will increase. Today, one in three urban residents live in slums, all too often beyond the reach of health services that address maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, including family planning. A new website on urban reproductive health from the Monitoring, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project highlights programs of the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (URHI) in sub-Saharan Africa and India that expand access to and quality of family planning services to the urban poor.

The URHI, a multicountry program targeting the urban poor, improves contraceptive choice and increases access to high quality, voluntary family planning in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. The MLE project will determine if URHI interventions expand the reach and quality of integrated family planning programs and maternal and child health services in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the lives of poor urban residents in the developing world.

The MLE project will also build monitoring and evaluation capacity for reproductive health programs, and promote evidence-based decisionmaking in the design of integrated family planning and reproductive health interventions that target the urban poor in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The MLE project is being implemented by four organizations: PRB, the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) Regional Office in India. PRB oversees knowledge translation and dissemination activities of the MLE project, ensuring that MLE findings reach reproductive health stakeholders at the country, regional, and global levels. The website features selected research and publications on urban reproductive health, presentations, feature stories, and updates on activities.

“PRB’s partnership in the MLE project highlights our commitment to bringing evidence on what works in reproductive health to a wider audience,” says Fariyal Fikree, senior program director of Global Health and the principal investigator for the MLE project at PRB. “Through this website, we hope that program managers, policymakers, educators and students in developing countries, and the general public can learn from the experiences of URHI so that evidence-based information can assist in crafting urban reproductive health policies and programs targeted toward the urban poor.”

Visit www.urbanreproductivehealth.org and register for e-mail updates at info@urbanreproductivehealth.org.

Eric Zuehlke is an editor at the Population Reference Bureau.