Family Planning Commitments: Much Achieved, But Short of Goal

November 16, 2015

Last week, Family Planning 2020—the partnership established during the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning—issued its annual progress report. Since the start of FP2020’s endeavor to mobilize increased global effort on family planning as a means to empower women and improve health, about 24 million more women with reported unmet need are using contraception. In 14 countries, there has been an acceleration of the rate of adoption of modern contraception when compared to historical trends. Method choice and program quality has increased in a number of countries, assuring that women who want to space or limit their births are able to freely and voluntarily choose the method that is right for them.

But much remains to be done; a comparison of commitments and baselines in 2012 to mid-2015 makes clear that the global effort must overcome several hurdles to meet its 2020 aspirations.

Committed versus actual funding and performance of 69 focus countries under FP2020


Committed 2012-2020

Actual 2012-2015



$4.3 billion cumulative,
of which $2.6 billion from donors

$3.1 billion annually,
of which $1.4 billion from donors (2014)

New users of modern contraception

120 million cumulative



24.4 million cumulative
(10 million < annual projection)

Modern contraceptive prevalence rate among women of reproductive age

32% (2012)

33.2% (2015)

Unmet need for modern contraception among married or in-union women of reproductive age (self-reported)

Not reported

133 million (2015)

Percentage total demand for family planning satisfied among married or in-union women of reproductive age (self-reported)

Not reported

<30% – 10 countries
30-60% – 35 countries
>60% – 23 countries

Number of unintended pregnancies

Not reported

48.8 million (2015)


The progress report suggests that some key issues need to be assessed going forward:

  • How much money is needed each year and how much is actually available and spent? At the moment, it looks like the annual spending figure—if multiplied across the 2012-2020 period—would far surpass the funding requirements estimated in 2012 for the entire period. Which number is right? Do commitments need to be revised based on the newly available data?
  • How effective is funding? Donor spend increased one-third between 2012 and 2015, but progress has not accelerated proportionally. While one wouldn’t expect a one-to-one relationship between increased spend and increased progress, the current elasticity of spend-to-progress suggests that program efficiency might be a priority.
  • How realistic is it to assume that women will adopt modern contraception at a historically unprecedented rate, even if they have reported an unmet need? What do we know about the effectiveness of family planning programs and their ability to “bend the curve”?
  • What do donors need to do to align efforts? There are a lot of commitments listed in the FP2020 progress report, but is everyone doing their own thing, or is funding aligned behind the single costed implementation plan at country level?

The good news is that now is the right time for a fresh look at family planning efforts: 2016 is the midpoint of the FP2020 initiative and revisits of performance projections, funding requirements, allocation practices and incentives for alignment of effort could have an impact. Indeed, CGD will be bringing its voice and analysis to this discussion via a new working group, so stay tuned for updates.  


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.