Encouraging City-to-City Learning and Program Design During COVID-19 in Burkina Faso
Contributors: Fatima Sow, Annette McFarland and Vanessa Mitchell
Bobo Dioulasso has joined the cities of Ouagadougou and Koudougou as the third city in Burkina Faso to partner with The Challenge Initiative (TCI) after submitting an expression of interest (EOI), which was accepted in November 2019. Typically, TCI Technical Advisors in Francophone West Africa travel to new cities once an EOI is accepted to support local officials in designing a program that fills identified gaps in their family planning services. At this point the city outlines the funding needed and confirms the local resources they can contribute.
While the city of Bobo Dioulasso was eager to begin designing its program with TCI, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, so travel restrictions made it impossible for TCI technical staff to travel from Dakar, Senegal to Bobo Dioulasso. So TCI decided to support officials from Koudougou to mentor their counterparts in Bobo Dioulasso, as Koudougou had just begun implementing their family planning program in April 2020.
Dr. Sylvain Soubeiga, Chief Medical Officer of the Koudougou Health District, and Lamine Nebie, TCI’s focal person in Koudougou, convened virtual meetings with the team from Bobo Dioulasso, including 30 men and women from the local government, the health directorate, youth representatives, a regional pharmacist and religious leaders. In August 2020, Dr. Soubeiga, Nebie and the TCI Country Program Manager traveled nearly 300 kilometers to Bobo Dioulasso and used the “Lead-Assist-Observe” approach to coach the Bobo Dioulasso team in developing their own family planning program. COVID-19 precautions – including face masks and social distancing – were in place at the workshop. The Koudougou coaches supported the Bobo Dioulasso team to:
- Analyze the administrative, socio-demographic and health context in their city
- Conduct a rapid needs assessment, review available data, and identify and analyze FP/AYSRH gaps in at the municipality, health system and community levels
- Design a program that fills the most critical gaps with the appropriate high-impact best practice interventions
- Draw up the FP/AYSRH budgeted action plan for Bobo Dioulasso including the city’s local contribution
As a result of the peer-to-peer coaching they received, Bobo Dioulasso is now implementing its family planning program. Initial activities include a radio program on World Contraception Day (September 26), a forum for religious and traditional leaders on changing social norms, and a training for health workers on how to provide family planning services. Since the workshop, the Bobo Dioulasso team has stayed in touch with the Koudougou coaches, consulting with them on questions such as how to open a bank account for the project and conduct launch activities as well as the recommended composition of the program management unit.
“It was very important for me that people could participate and understand the objective. COVID-19 was a major constraint, but taking up this challenge through TCI’s coaching approach and supporting Bobo Dioulasso in drawing up its action plan was dear to me and that’s what we did.”
“After the COVID-19 restrictions, the TCI Country Manager of Burkina Faso told us that we will be supported by the Koudougou team and that is where we started the virtual exchanges for the preparation and then they came to support us for the workshop. Really, the support of Koudougou team on site and remotely was beneficial because we were able to diagnose our FP needs and developed a budgeted action plan.”
“This was the first time an FWA city took the lead in providing technical assistance to another city to develop a program design. I think this [peer-to-peer coaching between TCI cities] is an opportunity to promote the municipalities already enrolled in the TCI model. This is something the TCI-FWA hub will build on, because it’s a way of favoring local ownership and sustainability of the process.”