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Burkina Faso and Niger: Improving Family Planning Outcomes through Knowledge Management

Burkina Faso and Niger are two francophone West African countries that have developed Costed Implementation Plans (CIPs) for family planning. In French, the acronym that is typically used to describe these plans is “PANB,” short for Plans d’actions nationaux budgétisés. In the CIPs, countries describe their family planning (FP) strategies, itemize activities, and cost them.

According to FP2030, CIPs are multi-year roadmaps for action to help governments achieve their FP goals—goals that, if met, will save millions of lives and improve the health and well-being of women, families, and communities.

Burkina Faso has significantly improved its FP outcomes over the past decade. The modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) among married women increased from 22.5% in 2015 to 31.9% in 2020. The rate of unmet need for family planning for the same demographic decreased between 2016 and 2020, from 28.8% to 21.29%.

In its FP2030 targets, Burkina Faso seeks to increase the mCPR among married women from 31.9% in 2020 to 41.3% in 2025 and 50.7% by 2030. The country aims to achieve this by ensuring that all couples, individuals, adolescents, and youth have access to a full range of affordable, quality FP services. Niger, on the other hand, seeks to raise its mCPR from 21.8% in 2020 to 29.3% in 2025, and 36.8% by 2030.

Inclusion of Knowledge Management in National Budgeted Action Plans

Robust knowledge management (KM) frameworks are crucial in developing and implementing effective CIPs. In collaboration with Breakthrough Action in West Africa, Knowledge SUCCESS assisted Burkina Faso and Niger in including KM in their CIPs. Through training, Knowledge SUCCESS introduced KM concepts to the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) in charge of the plans, after which the TWGs of both countries decided to integrate knowledge management into their new CIPs. Aissatou Thioye, Senior Technical Officer for Research Utilization at FHI 360 and West Africa Knowledge Management and Partnerships Officer for Knowledge SUCCESS, facilitated the process.

“I did not propose to them what to do. I only oriented them by sharing information and facilitating discussions. When they understood what knowledge management is, its tools and techniques, and related that to their needs and the challenges they faced, they made the propositions to include knowledge management activities in the plans,” explained Thioye.

The Case of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso included four priority KM activities in its 2021–2025 CIP:

  • Set up a new platform within the Ministry of Health’s website to make reference information and resources focused on FP available online to all stakeholders involved in developing and implementing CIPs
  • Document family planning experiences under the CIP to take stock of and share good practices and lessons learned
  • Improve coordination, learning, and sharing of information around implementing, monitoring, and evaluating CIPs among various actors
  • Conduct and use family planning action research during the implementation of the CIP

Dr. Euphrasie Adjami Barry, the Coordinator of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Program at the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene of Burkina Faso, said that knowledge management will improve their decision-making processes. “Documentation of good practices and lessons learned from sexual and reproductive health interventions and sharing and disseminating such information will aid decision-making processes in the implementation of the [National Budgeted Action] Plan,” she said.

Documentation of interventions is particularly important because in developing the budgeted action plan, stakeholders in Burkina Faso noted that there was insufficient information on the National Family Planning Plan as a reference document. This was attributed to weak documentation and dissemination of good practices at the health zone levels, as well as a lack of research to generate evidence and inform new strategies to meet the established national family planning objectives.

The Case of Niger

In Niger, the strategic KM nexus in its 2021–2025 family planning CIP revolved around systematic data collection, the documentation of intervention activities, storage of FP strategies and interventions, and sharing good practices and lessons learned, including new knowledge and information on family planning. This would be achieved by establishing a virtual library at the Ministry of Health to promote knowledge use and sharing in an FP context. The country also prioritized strengthening collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders.

Dr. Amadou Housseini, the Director of Family Planning at the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, said that KM practices will enhance evidence-based advocacy. “We have started collecting data and processing activity reports and strategy documents, among others, to produce and share knowledge through the Family Planning Direction (FPD) newsletter and articles. This data will be used for making evidence-based advocacy cases for family planning,” he said.

Dr. Amadou added that integrating knowledge management practices into FP interventions enabled his team to create a database of key documents such as reports and strategic plans, which helps improve program implementation and evaluation. “As a manager, you are able to track everything that is happening in the implementation of the plan,” he remarked.

Strengthening Implementation

Burkina Faso and Niger have established strategies to ensure that the KM activities proposed in the CIPs are implemented. These include the development of a communication plan to ensure effective coordination at all levels, the mobilization of domestic and external resources to support implementation, and the participation of family planning clients—the ultimate users of the services.

In addition, across Burkina Faso and Niger, regional coordinating bodies, such as the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP), will be used to strengthen and prioritize KM practices at the national and regional levels. The OP convenes nine countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo—and seeks to promote the sharing and use of knowledge, research, and advocacy on family planning and reproductive health.

Thioye said that knowledge management will ensure there is an effective monitoring and reporting system for the Burkina Faso and Nigerien National Family Planning Plans. This will be realized through strengthened coordination and consultation frameworks for the implementation of the plans, diligent documentation of activities and processes, and sharing and use of evidence for continuous learning. Thioye added that documentation of success stories, good practices, and lessons learned will boost the visibility of both countries’ family planning interventions, not only at national and regional levels, but also globally.

Lessons Learned

“We believe that the process of developing Burkina Faso’s CIP was participatory and inclusive. It took into account the concerns and aspirations of all stakeholders. We learned that the action planning process is a good example of promoting multisectoral collaboration and that knowledge management, which goes beyond monitoring and evaluation, is an essential factor for good decision-making,” said Dr. Adjami.

In Niger, Dr. Amadou observed that the process of mainstreaming and implementing knowledge management ensures that there is ownership of the plan, which enhances success in the interventions and, ultimately, family planning outcomes.

Brian Mutebi, MSc

Contributing Writer

Brian Mutebi is an award-winning journalist, development communication specialist, and women’s rights campaigner with 17 years of solid writing and documentation experience on gender, women’s health and rights, and development for national and international media, civil society organizations, and UN agencies. The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health named him one of its “120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders” on the strength of his journalism and media advocacy on family planning and reproductive health. He is a 2017 recipient of the Gender Justice Youth Award in Africa. In 2018, Mutebi was included on Africa’s prestigious list of “100 Most Influential Young Africans.” Mutebi holds a master's degree in Gender Studies from Makerere University and an MSc in Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy and Programming from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.