Training, Research, and Advocacy to Create Sound Policy

Population researchers in training

Professor Clifford Odimegwu (in pink shirt) of the University of the Witswaterstrand in Johannesburg teaches the next generation of South African demographers.


This part of the Global Development and Population Program helps international development leaders understand that family planning and reproductive health investments improve the social and economic wellbeing of people in developing countries. A priority is to produce and publicize trustworthy, timely, and relevant analyses of reproductive health and development issues that have application in the real world. This evidence helps inform development and reproductive health policies and the allocation of resources to improve people's lives. Support is also provided to train the next generation of population scientists, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

This part of the Program has five components:

1)  Exploring How Family Planning and Reproductive Health Affect Economic Development

The Foundation makes grants to increase understanding of how reproductive health and demographic trends affect poverty and rates of economic growth. The Program supports economic research in developing and developed countries, with an emphasis on disseminating findings to policymakers, development researchers, and to multilateral development agencies and other donors.

2)  Understanding Reproductive Health and Population Trends and Their Impact

Despite falling fertility rates in many parts of the world, the job of helping people have the number of children they want when they want them is not yet done. Focusing the attention of policymakers and the public on the impact of population trends remains crucial. To that end, the Foundation supports research to understand the forces driving demographic trends such as changing fertility rates and reproductive health outcomes, the impact of HIV/AIDS, and the disparity in reproductive health between the rich and the poor within countries, particularly as they reflect inequitable access to services.

An important part of our grantees' work is to communicate the results of research and to advocate that countries adopt policies and programs that are based on evidence. We support organizations throughout the world that disseminate research and advocate for effective policy and adequate funding to improve reproductive health and development outcomes, and the quality of people's lives.

3)  Training Africa's Next Generation of Population Scientists

Training the next generation of population experts in Africa is crucial — particularly in the sub-Saharan region — to reducing reliance on professionals from other countries to inform development policies and programs. The Foundation makes grants to strengthen key population-science training programs in Africa. The goal is to increase both the number and quality of master’s and doctoral graduates. Funds support fellowships, dissertation research, curriculum development,and faculty exchanges in Africa and in developed countries, as well as the professional organizations that support population science in Africa and around the world.

4) More Money, Well Spent

Good family planning and reproductive health services help improve the well-being of individuals and families, and are critical to achieving sustainable population growth and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.  Nevertheless, reproductive health programs in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be chronically underfunded, leaving many women without the basic family-planning services they need.  One quarter of married women of childbearing age in sub-Saharan Africa who want contraception are not getting it, and one out of every fifteen women dies of a pregnancy-related cause.  It is vital that more money be directed toward population and reproductive health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, but this money needs to be spent more efficiently and effectively. 

To do this, the Program funds research and advocacy to improve health policy. Our long-term goal is for increased funding for family-planning and reproductive health services that lead to better reproductive health and reduced poverty.

5) Improving Access and Use of Demographic and Related Data for Development

Solving the problem of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is one of our most enduring development challenges. One particular problem is the lack of accessible demographic and economic data that could help policy makers determine how to best allocate scarce resources and assess whether their interventions are actually making a difference.

Despite worldwide efforts to improve statistical data, many challenges persist, particularly in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The Hewlett Foundation has begun an exploratory grantmaking effort to make demographic and economic data more accessible to researchers, and to ensure that the information is effectively used by policy makers throughout the continent and globally.

Our long term goal is to provide policymakers with essential analyses and expand knowledge about the lives of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa, especially the urban poor, and the best ways to improve their well-being. To do this we will partner with ongoing efforts to expand data access and use, examine the role of promising technologies, and capitalize on the insights from country-level case studies to strengthen both national and regional data efforts.

The Global Development and Population Program does not accept unsolicited Letters of Inquiry for its Training, Research, and Advocacy grantmaking.