The UK’s strong commitment to family planning – which saw the UK Government pledge to spend an average of £180 million per year from 2012 to 2020, subsequently increased to £225 million a year in 2017 – is reflected in a large portfolio of bilateral family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programmes. Our portfolio analysis found a total of twelve active bilateral grants dedicated to family planning and/or SRHR, worth almost £1 billion in total (£961 million). All aimed to substantially scale up the numbers of additional users of modern family planning methods – often endeavouring to reach marginalised groups – and employ a range of public and private approaches to healthcare delivery.
The volume of UK ODA dedicated to family planning and other SRHR interventions is very welcome, especially given the rollback of SRHR by other major donor countries. DFID’s efforts have clearly extended family planning access to millions more women worldwide, including some of the most marginalised such as women with disabilities through the Women’s Integrated Sexual Health Programme. Yet the 2018 ICAI report into DFID’s maternal health programmes from 2011-15 highlights that many women and girls benefiting from UK ODA are still unable to obtain their chosen family planning method locally, due to challenges securing contraceptives’ supply.
It also notes that some family planning programmes implemented via non-state actors have risked displacing public sector provision, and that DFID has not supported advocacy for SRHR policy and institutional changes at national and local levels to the extent it has at the global level.
Family planning and SRHR are also included within the UK Government’s focus on research, and are integrated in the vast majority of health system-focused grants and humanitarian programmes featuring health components. UK ODA to health also supports market interventions for family planning commodities, for example supporting the procurement of a new injectable contraceptive, as well as price negotiations and product demand (Establishing a new contraceptive method (£30 million)).