West Africa Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Program

West Africa has consistently lower contraceptive prevalence rates as a region than the rest of Africa, and has some of the world's highest unmet need for contraception. Adolescent girls face unique challenges related to their sexual and reproductive health.

In 2012, we launched one of the first programs targeting married adolescent girls and young women in the region. It brings together governments, health care providers, mothers-in-law, religious leaders, and husbands to empower these young women.

Lompo was a child when she became a bride. She doesn’t know how old her husband is. "I never asked," she says softly. An innovative partnership with local government and communities in West Africa addresses the health needs of married girls like Lompo.

Ouali felt happy when she became a wife at 15. "My friends were getting married then too," she says. Now away from school and her family, Ouali spends her days cooking, cleaning, and traveling long distances to collect water and firewood.

“I did not want to get married at 14," says Nadjoari. "My parents pushed me into it. I could not refuse.” Five years later, Nadjoari lives with her husband, her co-wife, and their small children.

Pathfinder is laying the groundwork to address the great need for contraception and sexual and reproductive health services in francophone West Africa, a region that has some of the lowest contraceptive prevalence rates and highest maternal mortality in Africa.

In Niger, many girls are forced to leave their families’ homes and abandon their hopes of an education. They are rendered virtually powerless. These girls have been invisible for far too long, suffering in silence or dying because they became pregnant too young. We want them to know: we see you. You have rights.” — Dr. Sani Aliou, Country Representative, Pathfinder Niger

Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in the world. Three in every four girls is married off before she turns 18. Sixty-three percent of Guinean girls are married before they turn 18; in Burkina Faso, it’s 48 percent. (Source: UNICEF)

With funding from the John D. Templeton Foundation, Pathfinding Fund, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Pathfinder is implementing a scalable, evidence-based model focusing on promotion of sexual and reproductive health among young married women and their partners in Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

In Burkina Faso, Pathfinder supports community groups in allowing young women to develop a social network and support system, and offer an opportunity for them to receive information about contraception services and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.

Using effective strategies from our work in India and Uganda, Pathfinder works with the Ministries of Health in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Niger to support their efforts to develop strategies for adolescent reproductive health. Subawards are being prepared for local partner organizations to implement community-level activities in both countries.

West Africa



Your support is critical to ensuring our work can continue. Your gift of $25 or $50 helps women and families access contraception, maternal and newborn care services, and a range of other reproductive health services.

Related Publications

March 2015

Without Boundary: Health and Rights for Young People

Pathfinder believes every girl deserves a childhood. If her childhood is stolen from her, she needs access to high quality sexual and reproductive health care. This issue of Pathways explores Pathfinder's innovative work to address the urgent health needs of married girls and young women in West Africa—an extremely underserved group.

December 2014

Change Starts Here: Pathfinder International 2014 Annual Report

We believe change starts with expertly trained providers and pharmacies that never run out of supplies. It starts with open conversations among women, young people, men, religious leaders, mothers-in-law, policymakers, and others, joining to discuss their beliefs and remove barriers to their health and well-being. Our 2014 Annual Report shows a few highlights of how Pathfinder has served as a catalyst for change over the past year.

Related Projects

Ending Female Genital Cutting in Guinea

This USAID-funded project was a Pathfinder-led initiative to reduce and eliminate the practice of female genital cutting in Guinea.

Extending Service Delivery in Guinea

In Guinea, Pathfinder worked closely with USAID’s multi-sectoral project, “Faisons Ensemble,” to improve and increase use of family planning services, thereby reducing unmet needs in family planning.


Meeting Contraceptive Needs: Long-Term Associations Of the PRACHAR Project with Married Women’s Awareness and Behavior in Bihar

This article presents findings from an evaluation that sought to shed light on whether the improvements in contraceptive awareness and use observed following the implementation of the PRACHAR project were still evident four to eight years after its completion. Specifically, we examined whether women who were building families in areas where the PRACHAR project had been implemented—many of whom had not been directly exposed to the intervention—reported different contraceptive experiences than did those in comparison areas where the program had not been implemented.

Planning for Life on World Contraception Day in Niger

Thousands gathered in Niger’s Kantche District in Zinder this week to celebrate the power of family planning as part of the country’s World Contraception Day ceremony.

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