Despite progress made in sub-Saharan Africa, the status of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) is still poor. The reasons for this are manifold—they include financial obstacles to health services, limited access to contraceptives and other sexual and reproductive health commodities (SRHC), poor availability of professionally trained health personnel, gender inequality and conflicting socio-cultural practices and beliefs.

As part of our work on SRH, we contribute to capacity strengthening by equipping civil society actors and health stewards with needed knowledge, technical skills and tools to develop and implement evidence-based advocacy strategies. Our work in this field draws upon our research and advocacy expertise.

Currently, HAI is working on the Multi-Actor Approach to Family Planning in Burundi Project, supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Burundi, and in partnership with Twitezimbere. The overall aim of this project is to improve access, demand, and availability of SRH commodities, particularly modern family planning methods and sanitary products for women and adolescents.

HAI will implement the programme through a multi-pronged approach. We strengthen CSOs in their advocacy endeavours and conduct research into the barriers women and adolescents face when trying to access and demand SRH commodities and services. Both will contribute to inclusive and evidence-based dialogue spaces at the sub-national and national levels where we bring together actors from the public sector, private sector, and civil society. Here we support duty-bearers in their endeavours to develop and implement (sub)national policies and budgets that link to governmental population strategies.

At the community level, empowered CSOs advocate with decision-makers to improve access to SRHC and services, create buy-in and understanding of the importance of SRHC and quality services with community (faith) leaders, as well as increase the confidence of community members (particularly women and adolescents) to claim and use SRHC and sanitary products.
We will contribute to improved evidence-based policy making, change societal attitudes, and support the supply chain for family planning commodities.

For more information on the Burundi Solutions project, please contact Ange Moray (SRHR Coordinator).

In 2021, a project in Kisumu County (Kenya), funded by The Waterloo Foundation, looked at local government plans and budgets for the sexual SRH needs of residents. A key recommendation from the project was itemisation and transparency in budgeting for ease of monitoring and tracking.  Meanwhile, the sensitisation of sub-county reproductive health coordinators and pharmacists at technical working group meetings provided an opportunity for us to present the findings of our various studies on availability and affordability of SRH commodities. This resulted in them developing actions plans for a costed implementation plan (CIP) at sub-county level, which also incorporated some of our recommendations. A direct result was a data cleaning exercise that saw the county find family planning commodities that had been thought to be stocked out, and which were then re-distributed. Our advocacy for improved SHR budgeting will continue throughout 2022.

For more information on HAI’s research and work to improve access to SRHC in sub-Saharan Africa, please contact Gaby Ooms (Research Manager).