Updates on the Urban Family Planning Fellowship Project.
The Panel on Family Planning, Fertility and Urban development is pleased with the progress of the Urban Family Planning fellows. All four members of the first cohort have published (or are in the process of publishing) the results of their studies. The second cohort of 11 fellows has also begun their work, though with some delays caused by the COVID pandemic.
Recent publications from Cohort 1
Dr. Nkechi Owoo (University of Ghana) and Moses Tetui (Makarere University, Uganda) have completed their research and policy engagement efforts. Dr. Owoo published “Demographic Considerations and Food Security in Nigeria“ in the Journal of Social and Economic Development. Dr. Moses Tetui published “Geospatial Distribution of Family Planning Services in Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, Uganda” in the journal Frontiers in Global Women’s Health. Dr. Tetui is also a co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of that journal on urban family planning.
Dr. Alexandre Delamou (Guinea) plans to continue policy engagement work into 2021 but recently published research results in “Trends in contraceptive use, unmet need and associated factors of modern contraceptive use among urban adolescents and young women in Guinea" in BMC Public Health.
Dr.Pierre Akilimali, who will be finishing in 2021, has been promoted to head of Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) in DRC. He was recently featured in "The Surprising Challenge to Remote Training Success in DRC". The article recounts his successful implementation of remote training for enumerators working for PMA as they seek ways to work around restrictions due to COVID-19. His promotion to head PMA has enabled him to incorporate his urban FP study results into briefings with Ministry officials on PMA.
This first cohort has provided the project with numerous lessons to improve the experience of Cohort 2. For example, guidance about publications has been offered, and the Scientific Advisory Panel assists with reviewing draft articles based on fellows' research. The training on "policy tracking" has been more explicit. The African Population Health Research Center (APHRC) provided training on aspects of policy engagement (stakeholder mapping, writing policy briefs, working with media) to Cohort 2 much earlier than Cohort 1 (see below).
Eleven fellows are now included in Cohort 2 (one of the original 12 was unable to accept the fellowship because of a change in employment). Their study titles/cities are listed below and their bios and study abstracts are available in English and French.
1. Dr. Sunday Adedini, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria: Family planning and urban development in Nigeria: exploring the policy and programmatic gaps (Ibadan and Kaduna, Nigeria)
2. Dr. Nurudeen Alhassan, AFIDEP: Leveraging Family Planning for Sustainable Urbanisation in Malawi (Lilongwe and Mzuzu, Malawi)
3. Dr. Adriana Biney, Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana: Exploring use, non-use and discontinuation of modern contraception among urban youth in Accra, Ghana (Accra, Ghana)
4. Dr. Moussa Bougma, Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP): Stagnation de la fécondité à Ouagadougou : rôle de l'immigration du milieu rural et de la mobilité sociale (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
5. Dr. John Ganle, University of Ghana School for Public Health: Identifying and developing low-cost and acceptable family planning interventions and service delivery models for urban slums in Ghana (Agbogbloshie and Old Fadama Slums in Accra)
6. Dr. Eliphas Gitonga Makunyi , Kenyatta University: Family planning among blended Somali Women aged 15 -39 years in Nairobi: Barriers and Inequalities in Nairobi City, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
7. Dr. Francis Levira, Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) : Impact of HIV-FP service integration on urban fertility among HIV positive women (Dar-es-salaam and Dodoma, Tanzania)
8. Dr. Abdoul Nouhou : Barrières d’accès à la planification familiale à Niamey : entre qualité des services et motivations des femmes (Niamey, Niger)
9. Dr. Elizabeth Oele, Kisumu County Department of Health: Fertility preferences and contraceptive use among women of reproductive age in an informal settlement, Kisumu, Kenya (Kisumu, Kenya)
10. Dr. Ferdinand Okwaro, Aga Kahn University/University of Nairobi: Family Planning and Urban Development in Kenya: Exploring the Policy and Programmatic Gaps and opportunities for intersection (Nairobi, Kenya)
11. Dr. Idrissa Ouili, Enseignant-Chercheur, Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP) de l'Université Ouaga 1 Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo: Fécondité et pauvreté multidimensionnelle des enfants : disparités intra-urbaines à Ouagadougou (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
Each fellow has been paired with a “research mentor” to assist with technical aspects of their studies and also with an “urban policy partner” from the city who is tasked with helping the fellow ensure that the study results are shared with appropriate people and organizations in the urban sector. Despite the challenges of restrictions due to COVID-19, most of the fellows are making progress with their work; we anticipate that the extension of the project’s timeline into 2022 will allow them to complete their research and communication activities.
Policy Communication and Training workshops
COVID-19 has turned upside down plans for bringing together the fellows from both cohorts for policy engagement training and to share and exchange about their research and policy engagement activities. With the excellent efforts of the team at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), however, the policy communications and engagement training is now taking place remotely through a series of monthly online virtual workshops that bring the fellows together. These will continue into the spring of 2021. These will be followed up by one-on-one mentoring.
The fellows recently filled out an anonymous online survey evaluating the training. They especially valued the practically oriented sessions on how to craft a compelling message from one’s research, how to do stakeholder mapping and how to track policy. Several fellows indicated they anticipated applying what they had learned in the workshops to other research projects as well as transferring these skills to their students and other researchers. Fellows also valued the orientation to the nature of the policy realm, such as learning how to adapt to a dynamic policy environment. The project is especially grateful to APHRC for successfully adapting the training to a virtual platform and most recently incorporating French translation. The workshops have been video recorded and recordings made available to the fellows for reference or to use with the teams in their home institutions – perhaps one benefit of long-distance work during Covid that would not have been possible with live meeting sessions.
We hope by the end of 2021 and into 2022 fellows of both cohorts will have opportunities to present the results of their work at in-person events where they can exchange with each other and with those working in urban development and family planning to address the specific challenges of accessing FP in urban areas.
This project is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support a 4-year project to produce policy-relevant evidence on the effects of family planning and fertility change on urban welfare. The grant provides fellowships to 15 early-to-mid career researchers in sub-Saharan Africa to conduct research. The project includes mentoring and training activities as well as funds for policy outreach at local, national and international levels. The project's ultimate aim is to raise awareness of the contributions of family planning to sustainable cities among urban planners and policymakers and put family planning on the urban policy agenda where it has been largely absent.