Participatory Action Research with Youth to Document Perceived Changes Related to Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Gender Relations, and Leadership Among Young People in Niger

In 2014, the Evidence to Action (E2A) project launched the University Leadership for Change (ULC) program to promote youth leadership and strengthen university-offered health services to meet students’ needs for family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) in Niger. Piloted at Abdou Moumouni University (AMU) in Niamey, ULC was then scaled-up in 2016 to universities in Zinder, Maradi, and Tahoua. E2A also worked with government and university stakeholders to adapt the ULC approach to rural, community-based settings. This adaptation became known as the Community Leadership for Change (CLC) initiative and was implemented from 2017 to 2019, as part of the Resilience in Sahel Enhanced-Family Planning (RISE-FP) Project. The goal was to support young people’s discussions about health-related issues with their peers and to provide information about use of health services and voluntary contraceptive uptake.

Recognizing the positive outcomes that drove this program scale-up, in 2020, E2A supported student leaders in the ULC program with an international consultant based in Senegal and Pathfinder staff in Niger to further examine young people’s perceptions and experiences of whether and how their lives have been influenced by ULC and CLC interventions. Using a youth-led participatory action research (YPAR) approach that engages young people as investigators themselves, E2A aimed to document the impact of the ULC and CLC programs on the lives of students at the universities of Niamey and Zinder, as well as youth in the community where the programs were implemented, as related to three key domains of the ULC and CLC programs: access to and use of FP/RH services, gender norms, and youth leadership. This report presents the findings from this qualitative study, as well as a description of the process of implementing the YPAR approach, offering insights that may be useful to guide future AYSRH programming efforts.