Ouagadougou Partnership Research Agenda
The Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) was initiated in 2011 by the nine Francophone West African countries and their partners to reposition family planning as a national priority and to clear the backlog in this area. It has helped approximately four (4) million women access modern contraceptive methods in the eight (8) years of its implementation. Such a performance is reflected in the doubling of the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in most countries and the positioning of Francophone West Africa in the national, regional, and global reproductive health and family planning management bodies.
Although the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) countries accelerated their performances by increasing the number of additional women using modern contraceptive methods between 2012 and 2020, it should be noted that these countries are currently at a turning point as progress in the use of family planning services has been slowing down.
Why an OP research agenda ?
The implementation of the Ouagadougou Partnership’s research agenda is underpinned by several analyses. First, the slowdown in progress in the use of family planning services despite the sustained efforts from the governments and their partners that allowed for an accelerated performance in the number of additional women using modern contraceptive methods between 2012 and 2020. Second, the inadequate research on FP in Francophone West Africa reflecting the need for local research that will help policymakers develop and evaluate the impact of family planning policies. In addition, there is the limited use of existing data to inform FP policies and programs in the region as a great deal of research is not published or is in English and still not readily accessible to French-speaking people. Similarly, it should be noted that research is commissioned by the donors or nongovernmental organizations with little or no consultation with policymakers about their research needs. Finally, the OP community has decided, in its “Beyond 2020” strategy, to make research its operating mechanism and the compass for implementing programs towards achieving the 2030 objectives.
What are the objectives of the OP Research Agenda ?
The Ouagadougou Partnership’s research agenda has two main objectives:
- To undertake and publicize important policy-relevant family planning research as requested by policymakers in OP countries.
- To provide West African researchers with the opportunity to build their skills by using their work to provide advice on health policies in West Africa.
What are the components of the OP Research Agenda ?
The research agenda of the Ouagadougou Partnership is structured around three interrelated components, including the Research Council, the creation of a network of research stakeholders, and the establishment of research grant funds.
A Research Network
The establishment of an OP research network aims to pool and prioritize national resources and donors to support action research in order to advance specific family planning policies in OP countries and to build local research capacities to support the development of future policies. The OP research network provides policymakers with data to consider the best way to create an environment conducive to modern contraceptive use. A stakeholder network provides a coordinating and collaborative framework for local research institutes to conduct research in their own communities, ensuring that the results are relevant to the countries’ socio-institutional contexts and needs. The creation of an OP research network with an agenda is intended to address the challenges of accessing and using research evidence and to ensure that policymakers in OP countries have high quality data and evidence to guide their current and future policy decisions and optimize resources for FP.
A Research Council
The OP Research Council is an advisory body whose primary role is to guide the OPCU in identifying priority research themes and implementing its research agenda. The Research Council is composed of 8 members representing research institutions, governments, youths, civil society organizations, and donors from several countries. It serves a two-year mandate and meets on a quarterly basis.
Catalyst funds for action research
Retaining local researchers in the Francophone West Africa region is a permanent challenge, partly because funding and opportunities are limited compared to other regions of the world. The establishment of the Ouagadougou Partnership Research Grants Program aims to use catalyst funds to bring about changes in national reproductive health and family planning policies and strategies and to strengthen the links between the researchers and the policymakers. To this end, the OPCU will award 5 to 10 grants, ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 each, to proposals co-sponsored by a policymaker from an OP country and a local or regional research institution.
Priority Research Themes for Accelerating Family Planning Use in OP Countries
Identifying research themes based on the OP countries’ real needs is the cornerstone of the OP research agenda. The research themes have been selected through an inclusive and participatory process that have brought together nearly 70 participants from OP countries in Conakry, Guinea. These participants include national reproductive health directors, research officials from ministries of health, researchers, civil society organizations, including youth leaders, journalists, and technical and financial partners from Ouagadougou Partnership countries. A comprehensive mapping of potential themes collected from the researchers and the policymakers in the 9 OP countries has been reviewed by the workshop participants through group work. Then the plenary session of the workshop has retained about forty (40) themes and asked for the removal of the themes that have already been studied. Afterwards, the session has reviewed and prioritized the selected themes. After examination and proposal by the Research Council, seven (7) priority themes have been retained. These themes are likely to accelerate the creation of an FP-conducive environment and will be the subject of a call for proposals that will benefit from the OP grant.
- Improving young people’s access to family planning: strategies for integrating social reality and influence of tradition (countries concerned: Niger, Bénin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinée)
- Strategies for integrating family planning into the minimum emergency mechanism in a situation of crisis (countries concerned: Mali)
- Mechanism for integrating family planning into the universal health coverage scheme: policies and approaches (countries concerned: Togo, Sénégal, Mauritanie)
- Promising approaches for scaling up the delegation of tasks (countries concerned: Niger, Sénégal, Mauritanie, Mali)
- Strategies for free family planning services (countries concerned: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Guinée, Côte d’Ivoire)
- Strategies for reducing discontinuity in the use of modern contraceptive methods by women and young girls (countries concerned: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinée, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire)
- Mechanisms for engaging the private sector in reproductive health funding (countries concerned: Niger, Mauritanie, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire)