Press Release

Conference co-hosted by E2A results in shared outlook for improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health in West Africa

Representatives from nine West African countries attended a regional conference in Dakar last month to better understand the realities faced by young West Africans today, and to learn about the latest evidence and best practices related to the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services. Based on learning shared during the conference, country teams developed strategies for applying those best practices within their borders.

The conference, hosted by the Evidence to Action Project, Pathfinder International, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, was attended by Ministry of Health representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, as well as donors, partners, and young people themselves. While not formally linked to other ongoing partnerships in the region, the conference served to support existing efforts to strengthen family planning in the same countries that participated in the Ouagadougou Family Planning Conference in 2011. Those countries developed action plans for repositioning family planning to play a stronger role in achieving health and development goals. Many of the action plans contained elements related to improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health.

The conference was a timely event, as West Africa, like other parts of the world, has watched the number of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years surge over the past decade. Young people in that age range now make up more than half of the population in West Africa, where governments are increasingly focused on improving their health and well-being to leverage the vast potential of a healthy young population.

Presentations focused on a range of topics including:

  • Best practices in sexual and reproductive health, including comprehensive sex education, preventing early marriage, youth-friendly services, and long-acting methods for adolescents and youth, among others.
  • The different elements of developing a rights-based, youth-led approach to sexual and reproductive health services.
  • What works, and what does not work, in terms of youth-friendly services.
  • First-time parents—meaning young married mothers under the age of 25 and their partners, who have one child—which has been a group largely neglected by reproductive health programs to date.
  • Expandnet’s Nine Step Approach to scaling up best practices.
  • Looking at young people as a solution, rather than a problem.

In addition to the presentations, a highlight of the conference was the “Youth Seen by Youth Marketplace,” where several young people from the region talked about their experiences and the challenges they faced related to their sexual and reproductive health. Country teams rotated throughout the room to listen to each young person.

A conference report with more details will be available on the E2A website in the coming month.

Links to all presentations (available in French) are listed below.

Day 1 presentations

Day 2 presentations