PRB implemented the BRIDGE project from 2003 to 2010.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the BRIDGE project improved the policy environment on key population and health issues in developing countries. It provided influential audiences in these countries and in the international development community with up-to-date information and the skills to interpret and use it for improving health policies and practices.
The project’s activities had five core components: publications and dissemination; gender; population, health, and the environment; the media, and capacity building—each described in more detail below.
Publications and Dissemination
The BRIDGE project offered a steady stream of policy-relevant information for a wide range of developing-country audiences. Publications included both data-rich and interpretive materials that were translated into user-friendly formats, such as datasheets, policy briefs, and booklets, for nonspecialist audiences.
Materials were disseminated to more than 17,000 recipients in about 150 countries, representing people and institutions influential in the policy process. (The largest recipient countries were those supported by USAID.) Recipients of the materials regularly provided feedback that the information was used for programming, policy, and educational purposes in diverse countries and settings.
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The BRIDGE project contributed to USAID’s work to promote gender equity by disseminating information through electronic and print formats, and organizing outreach events on specific gender-related issues. PRB produced, disseminated, and publicized gender-related products, through the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) and directly. Products included policy briefs, web articles, a website and listserv. An official at USAID has said, “I tell everyone I see that it is the best listserv on women’s issues I have ever encountered.” Topics covered included gender-based violence, involving men and boys in reproductive health, gender and HIV/AIDS, and early marriage.
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PRB provided policymakers with information about youth and strengthened the evidence base for investing in youth development. PRB’s widely-referenced World’s Youth 2006 Data Sheet is a global resource on population, education, and youth reproductive health. Our 2010 chartbook, Improving the Reproductive Health of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Youth: A Route to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, draws attention to actions that can assist countries in meeting the MDGs by improving the health, education, and economic well-being of youth. Several PRB policy briefs on youth issues offered concise and insightful information and specific policy recommendations. PRB’s media seminars exposed hundreds of journalists and editors to the realities that many young women face, including female genital mutilation/cutting, trafficking, and unplanned pregnancy. Study tours also enabled journalists to see how programs support youth by providing them with job skills, peer counseling, and a safe environment for social activities. PRB strengthened the capacity of youth advocates to communicate about youth issues and nurtured youth champions through its Fellows Program, which trains graduate students from top universities in policy communication. PRB championed efforts to abandon female genital mutilation/cutting and was at the forefront of activities marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance Day to FGM.
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Population, Health, and Environment
PRB’s Population, Health, and Environment program aimed to inform decisionmakers, program managers, journalists, and the public about population, health, and environment interactions, promote a better understanding of these complex issues, and explore innovative ways they can be addressed. The BRIDGE Project supported these objectives through dissemination, outreach, capacity building, and work with the media.
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PRB worked with members of the news media in developing countries to help them understand and cover reproductive health and other population-related issues. PRB did this by establishing networks of journalists and, through seminars, giving them the skills and information needed to cover the issues effectively. PRB also sponsored journalists to cover relevant international and regional conferences. BRIDGE-funded media activities produced more than 1,000 print and broadcast stories on family planning, reproductive health, and related issues between 2003 and mid-2006.
BRIDGE supported PRB’s media network, Women’s Edition, which was launched in 1993 to bring together senior-level women editors and broadcast producers from influential media outlets in developing countries to examine and report on population and women’s health issues twice yearly. BRIDGE also supported other media networks and activities in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Haiti.
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PRB’s Fellows Program in Population Policy Communications bridged the gap between research findings and the policy process by training developing-country nationals who are working on their PhD dissertations in the United States. Fellows participated in a two-week, policy communications workshop in Washington, D.C.; conducted a policy-relevant research project; and formally presented their work at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America. In addition, an International Program Fellow was selected every year to work in the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID.
PRB conducted regional and country-specific policy communications workshops to strengthen the ability of researchers and program managers to communicate results and lessons learned to decisionmakers. Funded by the BRIDGE Project, workshops were held in Thailand, Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Kenya. Thematic policy communication workshops were also conducted on topics such as gender-based violence, male involvement in contraception, female genital cutting, and more.
PRB contributed substantially to the institutional capacity of the National Council for Population Development (NCAPD) in Nairobi, Kenya. Technical assistance from BRIDGE helped the organization disseminate and use findings from the Kenya Demographic and Health Surveys; create a database of more than 800 Kenyan NGOs working in population, health, gender, and the environment; and advocate for policy change. NCAPD’s priorities included repositioning family planning, securing adequate reproductive health commodities, combating gender-based violence, and exploring population, health, and environment linkages.