Family Planning, Financing and Aid Effectiveness, International Policies

London Summit: Southern Governments’ Promises to Keep

promises to keep
by Suzanna Dennis

My blog yesterday tried to make sense of the financial commitments made at July’s London Summit on Family Planning. Today the organizers of the Summit are concluding two-days of meetings on how to implement the commitments. While we wait to see the roadmap they propose, governments like Tanzania are already making good on their commitments. Today I want to take a deeper look at the country commitments.

Here are some of the highlights of the country commitments to increase funding for family planning. Also check out my chart:

  • Uganda will increase its budget for family planning supplies from $3.3 to $5 million for the next five years;
  • Zambia will double its supplies budget;
  • Nigeria will provide an additional $8.35 million in contraceptives per year over the next four years; and
  • Pakistan will increase its funding for family planning to $200 million in 2012/2013;
  • Malawi will make it easier to track funding for contraceptives by creating a budget line in the government’s budget.

Other countries were more conservative in their financial commitments: Burkina Faso will “work towards” increasing the government allocation for family planning; Indonesia will “continue increasing” funding for family planning.  These are lackluster commitments, but at least they are being honest about their plans.

Another approach countries took is reducing the amount of money consumer will need to spend on family planning: Ghana, India, Mozambique, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe are planning to reduce or eliminate out of pocket spending on family planning services; India and Indonesia will include family planning in their universal health care programs. Southern governments should implement these significant financial commitments, and donors should support in-country civil society groups to hold their governments to account.

Looking beyond the funding alone, governments made strides towards fulfilling sexual and reproductive rights:

  • Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique Niger, Uganda, and Zimbabwe pledge to implement more youth friendly family planning services.
  • Ghana, India, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe will expand the available mix of family planning methods.
  • Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Solomon Islands will work to increase male involvement in family planning.
  • Bangladesh, Ghana and Mozambique will improve access to family planning in post-partum and post-abortion services.
  • Malawi plans to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 by 2014, while Bangladesh will work with leaders and communities to delay early marriage and child birth.

But where do the resources come from to support the great plans of these low-income countries? Practically speaking, who will pay for an aid-dependent country like Niger to fulfill its promise to quadruple its family planning budget? In their commitments, Pakistan and Kenya directly said that they were looking for donors to fund their family planning programs.

Clearly donor funding will play a key role in most countries, but the way money will be channeled is still not clear. The London Summit’s Accountability Annex says that donor money will be available for countries with, “strong, well elaborated country plans that are supported by stakeholders in-countries.”  I read: Bretton Woods’ Poverty Reduction Strategy crossed with the Global Fund’s proposal system.

Ministries of Health must shudder at the thought of yet another donor-driven, “country owned” strategy developed through a multi-stakeholder consultative process. Whatever the framework, it needs to be developed in a transparent manner in consultation with Southern governments and the in-country civil society groups that will hold them accountable. To lessen the procedural burden, countries with good existing plans or Contraceptive Security Strategies should be able to substitute them, in a process something like the Global Fund’s National Strategy Application.

I am tired of so many commitments and so little action. But I am hopeful that this London Summit was the culmination of momentum around women’s health, now with an explicit focus on the importance of family planning. As many have said before me, now comes the real test of the London Summit: moving from the promises to reality. The outcome of the New York meeting concluding today will be a good indication of where we are headed.

This is Part 2 in in a two-part series on commitments from the London Summit on Family Planning. Click here to read Part 1.

7 Responses to “London Summit: Southern Governments’ Promises to Keep”

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    Silence today threatens the children’s tomorrow

    The deliberate silence among population scientists with unfulfilled responsibilities to assume and duties to perform with regard to their skillful examination and careful reporting of extant research on “human population dynamics” cannot be excused by the recognition that such woefully inadequate behavior “exists in all professions”. There is much too much at stake. Scientists have to stand up and consciously speak out about what is true to them, according the ‘lights’ and scientific knowledge they possess.

    Solzhenitsyn reported, “One word of truth overcomes the world.” Could it be that for the lack of one word, one word by people in possession of truth, as their lights and science indicate ‘what is’, the world and life as we know it is being destroyed before our eyes? As the sages of old said, perhaps it is time, finally, now and here to “speak the truth as if you are a million voices, for your silence is killing the world.”

  2. Steven Earl Salmony

    ANOTHER CONVERSATION WE OUGHT TO BE HAVING…..

    The Untold Story of the Ecological Science of Human Population Dynamics, presented at the following link, http://www.panearth.org/.

    There is one issue that is not being given the attention it deserves. I want to ask you to focus on human exceptionalism as it relates to population dynamics of the human species. How are we to grasp the gravity of the human predicament, much less gain consensus about how to go forward, if we cannot share an adequate, scientific understanding of the ‘placement’ of the human species within the order of living things. Specifically, is the population dynamics of the human species essentially similar to, or different from the population dynamics of other species? In terms of our population dynamics are human beings actually exceptional? If so, where is the science for an assertion of human exceptionalism vis a vis its population dynamics. The population dynamics of non-human species are routinely and immediately understood. Food is the independent variable and population numbers is the dependent variable. More food equals more organisms; less food equals less organisms; and no food, no organisms. But the minute our focus shifts to human organisms, everything we know from well established scientific research about population dynamics is turned upside down. We widely share, consensually validate and automatically broadcast via the mass media the notion that the human species must grow food in order to meet the needs of growing human population. All of sudden human population numbers is the independent variable and food is the dependent variable. Where is the scientific research for this distinctly human exceptionalism with regard to the population dynamics of humankind? I cannot find sufficient scientific support for such exceptionalism.

  3. Steven Earl Salmony

    Speak out loudly, clearly and often about the power of the human species to produce manifold pernicious ecological effects on Earth, not the least of which is the great beast slaughter on our watch. Such deleterious behavior is directly induced and currently driven by 7+ billion human beings ravaging the Earth by reckless overconsumption of its limited resources, relentless overproduction of unnecessary stuff and unbridled overpopulation activity.
    Keep speaking out. The willful silence of so many knowledgeable but insistently dishonest, politically correct experts as well as the incessant mass media jabber of clever sycophants and other absurdly enriched minions of the most wealthy and powerful could be killing the world and life as we know it just as surely as the elephant hunters.
    Most of us are not hunting elephants or else gratuitously destroying the creatures and environs of the world we are blessed to inhabit, the world we borrow from our children.Most of us are not enriched by deceitfully spreading contrived logic, ideological idiocy and outright falsehoods in the mass media. The great majority are not actively engaged in such inimical ‘sins of commission’ but have chosen to maintain a discouraging silence, and not speak out ‘as if you were a million voices’. Can elective mutism in such circumstances be regarded as a ‘sin of omission’?

  4. Suzanna Dennis

    Thanks everyone for your great feedback on this blog.

    I want to flag a related posting by Gary Darmstadt , Monica Kerrigan and Wendy Prosser on the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimist:

    http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2012/09/No-Controversy-Delivering-Family-Planning

  5. Aliyu Aminu Ahmed

    A very good analysis. In addition I think it should be noted that Nigerian government has been providing FREE commodities to all public sector facilities, FP is now in the benefit package of Community Based Health and Social Insurance Scheme – implementation will begin by 2013, there is a commitment on task-shifting for Community Health Extension Workers to provide injectables starting 2012, there is possibility of involving the private sector in the free commodities program-already NGOs are involved etc…

    • Suzanna Dennis

      Thank you for your feedback, and for adding more on the important steps that Nigeria has taken to expand access to family planning.

  6. Steven Earl Salmony

    The children’s future is being determined right here, right now by the leading elders in my generation. How do you think we are doing? Too much talk? Too little behavior change? Too much arrogance. foolhardiness and greed? Too little……

    Steven Earl Salmony

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

    Chapel Hill, NC

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