Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

Family Planning, Fertility and Population Growth

The Center has developed a robust and multifaceted evidence base about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, with special attention to young people. Our research has also provided understanding of what works to
increase uptake of modern contraceptives within high-fertility communities, and has informed debate around unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortion.

The Center has also generated evidence on drivers of sexual violence and contributed to innovations in how to address sexual violence among refugee populations. Our work is exploring how poor men express their masculinity as breadwinners with few options for employment, and how they might become champions in the global struggle for gender equality.

A deeper understanding of contexts, drivers, experiences and preferences for family planning remains. Understanding SRHR throughout the life course is critical to many health and development pathways, as is improved understanding of population dynamics and their implications for sustainable development: specifically, the realization of the demographic dividend.

There are four areas of inquiry in this Unit, aiming to promote sustainable population growth and improved sexual and reproductive health and rights across the life course:

The signature issue for the Unit will be young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We will focus in particular on early adolescents (10-14 years) and those from marginalized communities, and the magnitude and impact of adverse SRH events on adolescent health and wellbeing. We will aim to clarify the contexts for comprehensive sexuality education, including SRHR/ FP counseling for adolescents. This program will also generate
evidence about what works to reach youth with safe, respectful and comprehensive SRHR information and services.

The second signature issue for this Unit will be unsafe abortion. We will aim to understand the contexts and dynamics of unsafe abortion, family planning, and contraceptive behaviors; deepen our understanding of the mortality and morbidity associated with unsafe abortion; and assess the impact of unsafe abortion prevention programs and barriers to quality post abortion care. We will contribute to knowledge on drivers, experiences and preferences among populations for the array of options for family planning, and illuminate pathways for optimizing the provision and sustainability of services, including financing and delivery options.

The third program of work will address gender and sexuality-related vulnerabilities. Assessing the magnitude and perceptions of gender-based violence will drive this programmatic area, including identification of where
men and boys might engage in promoting women’s SRHR. The program will also seek to clarify the origins and implications of gender ideologies and practices, including masculinity.

The Unit will spearhead efforts to contribute to the discourse around the Demographic Dividend. We will seek to understand population dynamics, including regional and intra-regional fertility, mortality and migration trends,
and their implications for sustainable development and how to position Africa to achieve the demographic dividend.

Featured Project

Quality of post-abortion care in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Nigeria

Program: Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

Currently, about 90% of women of childbearing age in Africa live in contexts with restrictive abortion laws. The bulk of women requiring abortion in these contexts resort to unsafe methods and procedures resulting in fatalities, severe disabilities or complications, which require treatment, hospital stays, intensive care, and attendance by highly skilled, yet scarce, health providers. Currently, the decline in unsafe abortion has been much slower than that of safe abortion in SSA. As a result, unsafe-abortion- related mortality and morbidities persist, raising urgent calls for more actionable evidence on the availability, provision, accessibility,and utilization of services for the management of post-abortion complications.

This multi-country study explores the issue of access to, utilization of, and quality of post-abortion in Kenya, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. In these countries, abortion is legally restricted, permitted only to save the life of a woman and or preserve her physical health. Consequently, there is a high incidence of unsafe abortion and related complications in all three contexts. Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Nigeria are also signatories to the ICPD Programme of Action which enshrines the right of women, in all cases, to quality services for the management of abortion complications, including contraception counseling and provision.

In addition, emerging national, regional, and global policy contexts and instruments including the SDGs, African Union Agenda 2063, the African Common Position, and other national policy instruments continue to emphasize the importance of ensuring quality health for women and girls as key to an inclusive, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

The intermediate outcome of the proposed project is robust evidence on the quality of post-abortion care (PAC) in the study countries. The proposed project will ultimately result in: quality SRH care; reduced inequities in access to abortion care; and decreased preventable and untimely maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion. Through the proposed research, we will generate evidence on the quality of PAC in the study countries and provide the much needed information for developing effective interventions.

Our evidence will serve policy goals such as enhancing access to quality PAC; promoting health equity; guiding policy and programmatic changes; and providing basis for designing, delivering, and scaling up of effective interventions.

International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)
Ebonyi State University
Action Health International


October 2017 – October 2019

Project Funders

  • hewlet



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