[ Skip Navigation ]
RESPOND Project Logo
RESPOND Partners


In September and October 2011, the RESPOND Project, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Malawi and with Malawian health ministry partners, spearheaded a review of Malawi's family planning program, to better understand the factors that underpin its recent successes. In addition to a literature review, RESPOND conducted interviews with 42 key informants, including senior government officials and representatives of donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations, national-level civil society institutions, service providers at the district and community levels, and local leaders. Community group discussions were also held with family planning clients at the village level.

RESPOND used these data to produce PowerPoint presentations for the team of Malawian representatives participating at meeting organized by USAID on repositioning family planning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another venue for the presentation was the National Conference on Leadership in Development and Population in Malawi, given by the head of reproductive health and family planning at the Ministry of Health.  

A journal article (Lessons from the Recent Rise in Use of Female Sterilization in Malawi) and a RESPOND Project Brief (Making Family Planning Acceptable, Accessible, and Affordable: The Experience of Malawi) were also produced. The project brief synthesizes the findings from the review, highlighting key achievements, relaying the story behind the family planning program's success, and looking to the future for sustaining and building on its remarkable progress. This resource was widely disseminated at the aforementioned National Conference.

RESPOND also conducted qualitative research in Malawi to gain insights into the factors that may constrain the use of long-acting and permanent methods of contraception there. (These methods are the intrauterine device [IUD], the hormonal implant, female sterilization, and vasectomy.) Data were collected from 501 participants in Dowa and Kasungu districts of Malawi between March and April 2012.  A RESPOND Project Brief (Views on Family Planning and Long-Acting and Permanent Methods: Insights from Malawi February 2013) is currently available. In addition, these research findings were presented at the annual conference of the Population Association of America in May 2012 and at the 5th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in September 2012, have important implications for family planning programming in Malawi as the country moves to heighten its recent successes by:

  • Promoting the benefits of a well-planned family for the health and quality of life
  • Increasing knowledge and correct misconceptions about long-acting and permanent methods of contraception
  • Paying particular to education about permanent methods
  • Highlighting the positive attributes of long-acting and permanent methods of contraception
  • Using stories and experiences of actual users to promote long-acting and permanent methods of contraception
  • Transforming gender norms to support joint, informed decision making
  • Improving service provision to address multiple inadequacies

Activities for FY 2012-2013
As a follow-up, USAID/Malawi requested technical assistance from the RESPOND Project to support USAID's health portfolio. These activities, which will take place between July 1, 2012, and July 31, 2013, are designed to support improved national and district-level awareness about, planning for, and implementation of public-sector family planning programs. Improved planning and implementation will ultimately increase the use of family planning overall and offer Malawians a wider range of contraceptive choices to meet their reproductive intentions.

RESPOND's work will support the Ministry of Health and the Reproductive Health Unit at the central level directly and will assist 15 districts to develop their District Implementation Plans. RESPOND will coordinate with policy-level work being done by the Futures Group's Health Policy Project and the Population Reference Bureau's IDEA Project. These policy efforts are setting the stage for program scale-up by advocating for increased investments in family planning to advance the country's development at the macro level. RESPOND's work takes advocacy one step further, by showing what needs to be done (from a family planning programming perspective) to implement programs at the district level once family planning is seen as priority for socioeconomic development.


© 2013 EngenderHealth/The RESPOND Project. ··· Contact Us
Photo credits: M. Tuschman/EngenderHealth; A. Fiorente/EngenderHealth; C. Svingen/EngenderHealth.

This web site was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the cooperative agreement GPO-A-000-08-00007-00. The information provided on this web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the USAID or the U.S. Government.