The Challenge Initiative (TCI) recently participated in the fifth Annual Family Planning Consultative Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, and made the case for its “business unusual” approach to family planning. Since 2013, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – has supported the Federal Ministry of Health’s Annual Family Planning Consultative Meeting, which allows stakeholders to discuss family planning issues in Nigeria.

The 2017 meeting took place Sept. 11 – 13 and focused on the theme “Investing in Family Planning: Key to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.” It had financial and technical support from numerous partners, including the Initiative.

During the opening ceremony, traditional leaders – His Royal Eminence, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar represented by Emir of Songa His Royal Highness, Dr. Haliru Yahaya, and the representative of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Olasupo Ayokunle – noted that the high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria is unacceptable. They advised the Federal Government to invest heavily in family planning to provide hope to millions of Nigerian women at risk of dying during childbirth.

Traditional leaders speak out in favor of investing in family planning in Nigeria.

During a consultative forum, Professor Isaac Adewole launched a new nationwide four-year family planning communication plan and logo – the Green Dot. He said Nigeria has included family planning in its Economic Recovery and Growth Policy, which emphasizes population management.

“We need to do three things: put resources, invest in growing people with extension to women and children, and invest in family planning,” Adewole said.

The Initiative’s presentation – Family Planning Investment in Nigeria-The Challenge Initiative Perspective – helped build awareness among the stakeholders present, which included representatives from all 36 states and Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria. It was also an opportunity to advocate on the return on investment cities can expect from working with the Initiative and gave examples from early success in its implementation states.

By the meeting’s end, four more states expressed interest in becoming part of the Initiative and in investing in family planning in their geographies and cities for sustainable development. Currently, the Initiative is working in three Nigerian states: Kano, Ogun and Delta.