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A succinct overview of the problems of adolescent reproductive health in the Sahel

The document Youth in Danger is highly informative and user-friendly

Daniel ENGER

01 / 1999

For individuals looking for a good overview of the subject of adolescent reproductive health in the Sahel region of Africa, an excellent place to start is the document "Youth in Danger", published by the Mali-based Center for Applied Research on Population and Development (CERPOD=Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche sur la Population pour le Développement)in August, 1995.

CERPOD was established in 1988 by CILSS (Permanent Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in The Sahel), which has nine Member-States: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. CERPOD was created in response to an increasing awareness of population problems in the Sahel and reflects the commitment of CILSS to population issues in the region. The dynamic CERPOD team, headquartered in the city of Bamako, is made up of an impressive multidisciplinary group of leading experts in the fields of demography, statistics, geography, sociology, journalism, and computer technology. The research team benefits from the synergistic collaboration of specialists in both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

In 1995, CERPOD launched an 18-month study on the trends and determinants of adolescent reproductive health behavior in the Sahel. This research had two components: analysis of data from demographic health studies in four countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal); and qualitative data gathered through focus group exercises and key informant interviews in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. It was this research that led to the production of the booklet "Youth in Danger" (also available in French: "Les Jeunes en Danger").

"Youth in Danger" allows the reader to gain a better understanding of the role and importance of sexuality in the eyes and minds of the region’s adolescents ; changes and differences in sexual behavior, knowledge and attitudes with regard to family planning, reproductive health and AIDS ; differences in the use of contraceptives by married and single adolescent women ; and differences in contraceptive use by married adolescent women and older married women.

The study results presented in the booklet demonstrate the complexity and the urgency of existing problems relevant to adolescent reproductive health in the Sahel. However, the authors of the booklet are keenly aware that "Youth in Danger" does not provide all the answers, and they appeal to a broad range of players in the Sahel to take the dialogue to the next level: health personnel, teachers, religious leaders, political decision makers, researchers, leaders of youth groups, parents, and adolescents themselves. In this context, each section of the brochure includes two or three key well chosen and cleverly formulated questions designed to stir the reader to discuss the issues with others.

The research results contained in "Youth in Danger" are intended to assist those involved in family planning programs as well as those who deal with the prevention and treatment of STDs as they go about developing appropriate strategies for improving adolescent reproductive health in the countries covered by the study. Toward this end, a number of key individuals and organisations have been called upon to play an active role in the dissemination of the research results: leading authorities in the family planning programs of the five countries (Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Mali, Niger, and Senegal), representatives of financial partners, and interested NGOs.

"Youth in Danger" is the fruit of the collaborative efforts of experts from SARA (Support for Analysis and Research in Africa), Africa Consultants International (Dakar), Macro International, Population Reference Bureau, Tulane University, and Johns Hopkins University. Funding was provided by USAID.

Key words

health, AIDS

, África, West Africa


Every year, scores of documents on youth and AIDS or on adolescent reproductive health are produced and distributed via mailing lists to people working for NGOs across West Africa. Discussions with colleagues reveal that they never take more than a cursory look at the vast majority of the documents they receive. However, it is hard to find anybody who has relegated "Youth in Danger" to that dusty stack of rejected publications. Why?

One reason is that "Youth in Danger" is well packaged. From the very first instant, one gets the impression that this colorful, uncluttered document is manageable, even for somebody with an extremely busy schedule. It invites one to take a closer look.

And that closer look reveals fascinating, useful information presented in a manner that makes it immediately applicable. One senses that the authors were keen to be useful, rather than to impress the reader by means of lofty intellectualisms.

Furthermore, the team behind "Youth in Danger" has done an excellent job at all stages of fostering a widespread sense among a multitude of actors in the region of being personally a part of the document and the process that has gone into it. This sense of ownership has led directly to heightened use of the document.

Finally, some structures involved in the distribution of "Youth in Danger" (such as Africa Consultants International in Dakar)have pursued a strategy that goes well beyond simply popping the document into an envelope and shipping it off somewhere. They have taken the time to introduce potentially interested groups to "Youth in Danger" and explain clearly to them ways in which the document could be useful to them.


For further information on "Youth in Danger", contact CERPOD, B. P. 1530, Bamako, Mali. Tel (0223)22 30 43. Fax (0223)22 78 31. E-mail: cerpod@cerpod. insah. ml

Information on the document and on its practical application in the field can be obtained from ACI(=Africa Consultants International), B. P. 5270, Dakar, Senegal. Tel (0221)824 83 38. Fax (0221)824 07 41. E-mail: aciannex@enda. sn



DJIRE,Mamadou; GUEYE, Mouhamadou; KONATE, Mamadou Kani; SOME, Sié Offi; ENGELBERG, Gary, CERPOD=Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche sur la Population pour le Développement, Youth in Danger, 1996/08 (Mali)

GDT (The Global Dialogues Trust) - B.P. 11589, Dakar, SENEGAL. Tél : (0221)824 97 65 Bureau du Burkina Faso: 06 B.P. 9342, Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO Bureau du Royaume-Uni: c/o SJS, 7 Allison Court, Metro Centre, Gateshead NE11 9YS, UNITED KINGDOM - Senegal - -,

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