In 2016, there were 4,720,000 women using modern contraceptive methods in the 9 Francophone countries of West Africa. This represents an increase of 1,306,000 additional modern contraception methods users since 2011. As a result of this level of contraceptive use, 1,167,000 pregnancies, 374,000 unsafe abortions and 4,300 maternal deaths were avoided.
There are many reasons for this important progress. Above all, there was the creation of the Ouagadougou Partnership in 2011 at the conference on Population, Development and Family Planning. This partnership between the 9 Francophone West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal et Togo) and key donors recognizes the need to invest in Family Planning. It calls for better coordination between donors to optimize their support to countries. The partnership also focuses on collaboration and cooperation at the national and regional levels to reduce the high rates of unmet family planning and contraception needs.
Urgency to act
The Partnership’s original goal during its “Urgency to act” phase, was to achieve at least 1 million additional modern contraceptive methods users by 2015 in the 9 member countries. To this end, each country has adopted costed implementation plan (CIP) supported by a group of key partners including the French Development Agency (AFD), the US Agency for International development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the West African Health Organization (WAHO).
From 2012 to 2014, Francophone West African countries saw a 36% increase in funding for family planning. Thanks to the tools of the CIPs , the 9 OP countries were able to develop results-oriented initiatives that helped them exceed by 30% the initial target of 1 million additional users to reach 1, 3 million.
2.2 million additional users by 2020
During the 4th Annual Meeting of the Ouagadougou Partnership held in December 2015 in Cotonou (Benin), stakeholders announced the transition from the Urgency to Act phase to the Acceleration phase from 2016 to 2020. Donors and governments appreciated the positive results achieved by the OP between 2011 and 2015 and committed themselves to support countries’ efforts during the acceleration phase.
The Ouagadougou Partnership intends to reach an additional 2.2 million users by 2020. This goal was determined on the basis of the trends in the “Urgency to act” phase for each country to which a 15% increase was added to take into account the specificity and dynamics of the countries. The acceleration phase presents important challenges for all 9 countries and their partners because, aside from the goal of 2.2 million additional women using modern contraceptive methods, countries also decided to review and revise their CIPs to turn them into second generation plans which take into account scientific evidence and promising innovations. New donors such as the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Canada joined the OP, making it even stronger in its mission of repositioning family planning in the region.
Acceleration in motion
The 5th Ouagadougou Partnership Annual Meeting held in Abidjan from December 12th to 14th, 2016 was an opportunity to take stock of the beginning of the implementation of the acceleration phase in accordance with the commitments made in December 2015 in Dakar and to lay the foundation for further actions to improve access to family planning services. The theme was: “Promoting contraception is to ensure a better future for young people”.
In 2016, thanks to task sharing, OP countries witnessed the introduction of injectable contraceptives at the community level. Some governments increased their budget allocation for contraceptive purchases and contributed to better communication.
The same year, Francophone West Africa countries gained 374,000 additional users resulting in the avoidance of 92,000 unwanted pregnancies, 350 maternal deaths and 30,000 unsafe abortions. For the first year of the acceleration phase, the 374,000 additional users represented 17% of the 2020 goal. However, if that trend continues over the next 4 years, the final objective will not be met because they will be a gap of 274,000. Greater efforts are therefore needed to achieve the goal of 2.2 million additional modern contraceptive users by 2020. The major challenge of the 9 Francophone West African countries for this acceleration phase is therefore to continue their advocacy for the mobilization of resources and improve youth access to contraceptive products.
Donors agreed to focus on three priorities in 2017: review and update of CIPs, investment of all donors in countries plans and dialogue between donors and countries for better alignment of interventions.