Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

Population, Reproductive Health and Poverty

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

Africa’s LGBT communities and the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to “Leave No One Behind”

Program: Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched in late 2015 provide clear guidelines and targets for addressing the root causes of poverty and uniting the world in pursuit of positive change for both people and planet. Strongly grounded in international human rights standards, the SDGs aim for an inclusive world and put economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights and the right to development at the core of social progress. The clarion call of the SDGs to ‘leave no one behind’ is especially relevant for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, who continue to suffer violations and remain excluded in national and international development initiatives.

As research shows, LGBT communities continue to present unique socioeconomic, health, and development concerns for many sub-Saharan African countries. They experience high levels of exclusion in some way or another in society; often have little or no grip on the social, economic, and political processes that affect them, and suffer exclusion and violations that go largely un-interrogated and undocumented.

Despite legal and social advances in the past two decades, exclusion and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) remain common. The majority of African countries currently have laws that impact negatively on LGBT communities. For instance, homosexual activity among men attracts the death penalty in Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia, and parts of northern Nigeria; life imprisonment in Uganda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone; and long periods of imprisonment in Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, and Gambia. Further, in Nigeria, heterosexual family members, allies, and friends who support or aid gay and lesbian men and women risk a 10-year jail sentence. Even in South Africa and Cape Verde, where robust constitutional protections guarantee rights for sexual and gender minority, LGBT communities continue to face discrimination and violence.

For these reasons, APHRC is embarking upon research to measure changes in policy frameworks since the introduction of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The research team is led by Boniface Ushie, an associate research scientist. The project is exploring whether and how SDGs-era policymaking and development planning efforts in Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda are creating enduring and inclusive processes of empowerment and poverty reduction. The study is expected to generated evidence on the extent to which key SDGs-era national development action plans and policies in SSA are LGBT-aware and engaging with the particular root causes of LGBT exclusion and marginalization.

Previous research highlights the pervasive violent exclusions and inequities to which punitive laws expose LGBT people in the region, but less is understood about the emerging opportunities offered by global and regional policy documents for addressing SOGI-related exclusion.

While LGBT individuals are not specifically mentioned in the SDGs, emerging analyses point to opportunities for practical actions as countries continue to develop plans for translating SDGs into their national plans. Policymakers in Africa are sometimes sceptical of research on African LGBT communities that is generated from outside the continent. Adding local voices to the understanding of the issues affecting key marginalized groups in the region can facilitate policymakers’ use of research evidence for action and change.


October 2017 – May 2020

Project Funders

  • ford

    www.fordfoundation.org ...


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