Improving Family Planning Programming Using Unmet Need Measures

Photo by Sumon Yusuf; Courtesy of Photoshare

Unmet need is a common measure that has been used for family planning advocacy and population policies, and is often used to assess family planning program success at the regional and national levels. Unmet need is defined as women who are not currently using a contraceptive method but who report not wanting any more children or wanting their next child in more than two years.

In spite of the fact that this measure is heavily relied upon to guide policies and programs, there is a major evidence gap in how it can be used in programs with youth, particularly as they move through different stages of their lives. Given that we are currently seeing the largest cohort of youth in history entering into their reproductive years, it is imperative that programmers and policymakers design family planning interventions that will effectively reach youth and reduce unwanted pregnancies and high rates of youth fertility.

The Evidence Project/Population Council is generating evidence to improve understanding of how unmet need can be used to develop and refine programming for youth.