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USAID Repositioning in Action e-Bulletin - Summer 2015

by Portal Web Editor last modified Aug 04, 2015 08:26 PM
Contributors: USAID
Increasing political and financial support for family planning in sub-Saharan Africa through the formation of strategic partnerships is a priority for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Repositioning Family Planning promotes sustainable development in Africa by elevating family planning to the forefront of policy and advocacy agendas. This e-bulletin provides focused technical information to ensure field colleagues have the most up-to-date resources and tools to improve sustainable access to family planning.

Building Climate Change Resilience through the Integration of Family Planning and Food Security Programming

Nearly 795 million people worldwide lack sufficient food, and approximately 15 percent or more of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished with a significant variations by country and region (FAO World Hunger Map,2015). Climate change continues to be a growing concern for many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, where decreased rainfall and increased instance of drought have the potential to reduce agricultural yields dramatically, resulting in food insecurity. A food supply is considered secure when food is available, accessible, and of good nutritional quality for the population and insecure when any or all of these are absent.

Sub-Saharan Africa experiences food insecurity for a number of reasons. Rapid population growth has accelerated the demand for increased food production. At the same time, an increase in urban populations has decreased the number of farmers working in rural areas, leaving fewer hands to meet increased production demand. When food production is already in serious decline, all aspects of food security are also potentially affected by climate change, especially including food access, utilization, and price stability.

Increasing access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services has been shown to decrease population growth rates, thus reducing the added pressure on agricultural systems. Despite the reality of rising food prices and shrinking farm sizes, couples have control over at least one factor contributing to their food security: family size. Access to contraceptive counseling and reproductive health services gives couples the chance to space births and have their desired number of children. The fewer children a family has, the more energy and resources they have to devote to them, improving overall family nutrition and household food security.

Strategies that combine slowing population growth with increasing agricultural yields can improve the resilience of food supplies to the effects of climate change. Building resilience within the food supply gives countries, households, and families the means to recover from climatic and weather shifts and to avoid humanitarian food crises.

For more information see Impacts of FP on Food Security [PDF, 844KB], Climate Change and Global Food Security and FAO World Hunger Map 2015 [PDF, 5.5MB].

Food Security and Family Planning

Increased access to voluntary family planning leads to:

  1. Reduced population growth and pressure on food systems, which also means reduced unmet need for modern contraceptive methods
  2. Increased participation of women in the agricultural labor force
  3. Increased agricultural yields, irrespective of climate change’s effects, keeping prices for nutritious foods low
  4. Greater capacity for families to purchase healthful foods at low prices, contributing to both household food security as well as population food security

Learn more about Improving Nutrition and Food Security through Family Planning from the Population Reference Bureau as a part of the USAID-funded Informing DEcisionmakers to Act (IDEA) Project.

View the Improving Food Security through Family Planning video on YouTube

Next Steps in Taking Action

Strategically Incorporating Family Planning and Food Security in Programming

Increased attention has focused on strategies that address unmet need for family planning and reproductive health as well as nutrition. In order to determine the best practices for integrating family planning, food security, and nutritional programming, Food And Nutrition and Technical Assistance (FANTA) conducted a review of existing programs. Across many programs, the utilization of existing materials, human resources, and community mobilization mechanisms to promote both family planning and nutritional programming gave these integrated programs an effective platform to effectively provide more women and families with their services.

For more information about this review see FANTA - Food Nutrition and Technical Assistance

Example of integration in action from Ethiopia

Ethiopia has developed a Growth and Transformation Plan as a climate change strategy to increase the resiliency of agricultural yields to climate change. An important piece of this is the incorporation of family planning and a goal of increasing the use of modern contraceptives to help slow population growth and promote food security. The Health Extension Workers program has allowed Ethiopia to increase family planning among married women between 2005 and 2011 and expanding these efforts is expected to help reach their goal of 65 percent of married women using modern contraceptive methods.

For more information see the full report at Improving Access to Family Planning Can Promote Food Security in a Changing Climate

Climate Change Vulnerability

Climate change is likely to have a negative impact on the yields of cereal crops and aquaculture across Africa overall and also with regional variability. Population growth is linked closely to climate change vulnerability, and regions with a large unmet need for family planning and reproductive health services are particularly vulnerable. Regions like the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa with high population pressures and chronic droughts are at an increased risk for a food insecurity crisis due to decreased agricultural yields.

  • Burundi Live Long Child Survival Program [PDF, 1.1MB]: This program incorporated family planning at both the community level and the health center level. They had success in this implementation due to using existing materials and a community mobilization platform and involving religious leaders and men in their efforts.
  • RISE Project in the Sahel Region: RISE stands for Resilience in the Sahel-Enhanced and is part of USAID’s response to the humanitarian crisis in the West African region of the Sahel. This is a combined effort using humanitarian and development funding to help build resilience in the region to reduce poverty and improve food security in the region.
  • Full Sack Resiliency Enhancement Program Haiti [PDF, 1.7MB]: This project in Haiti incorporated family planning alongside a nutrition program but found that limited human resources to meet the demand and transportation issues hindered its success. This program included the community and existing distribution structures, which helped make it successful.

Have you visited the Repositioning Family Planning Web Portal?

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Please contact Carmen Tull at and Alexandra Todd with your family planning successes.

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