An international conference held in Cotonou, Benin, 9-11 December 2015, has celebrated the significant strides made in facilitating access to family planning methods in the nine countries composing the Ouagadougou Partnership – Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
A conference held in Burkina Faso in 2011 on population, development and family planning in West Africa marked a turning point in re-positioning family planning in francophone West Africa.With the launch of the Ouagadougou Partnership, these nine francophone countries set the common goal to achieve, by the end of 2015, one million additional female users of modern contraceptive methods.
“Even though this was set to be a considerably ambitious objective in a region that scores the lowest modern contraceptive prevalence rate – around 12% on average at regional level and high maternal mortality rates, we have been able to exceed our initial reach and allow about 1.2mn additional women to have access to modern contraceptive methods.” said Fatimata Sy, executive director of the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit.
As the region still requires major attention from donors and the international community for increased financial and technical support in reproductive health, the upcoming meeting is also expected to help shape and influence the role and contributions of family planning in attaining the new Sustainable Development Goals. This 2015 annual meeting is of crucial importance to the Partnership, as governments and their partners have been assessing the past four years and outlining a common vision and future objectives for the 2016-2020 period.
The 2011 meeting stressed ‘An Urgency for Action’. The 2015 has accented ‘The Acceleration Phase’, an upcoming period to insist upon maintaining gains, unlocking existing potential and strengthening high-impact interventions.
With around 200 participants including government representatives from the nine countries, donors, international institutions, civil society organisations, experts and practitioners in the field of population, family planning and reproductive health in attendance, the 2015 Partnership meeting voiced the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, allow in-depth exchanges on the strategies that will move forward national action plans and finally, stress that the ability to plan one’s family and future is a fundamental right and a sound investment. The Partnership maximised the current momentum and countries’ readiness to further its goals in the region and double its initial objective to reach over 2.2mn additional users of modern contraceptive methods.