Making the Case for Family Planning
RAPID, which stands for Resources for the Awareness of Population Impacts on Development, is a computer model that projects the social and economic consequences of rapid population growth for such sectors as labor, education, health, urbanization, and agriculture. It is an advocacy tool to help policymakers and other stakeholders understand the resources and lives that can be saved by investing in family planning.
With USAID support, the model has been continually improved over three decades, and adapted to respond to key areas of global health significance. For example, with co-funding from the Packard Foundation, Futures Group has developed RAPIDWomen, a tool that addresses specific issues of concern to women’s groups and advocates.
Model and Methodology
RAPID is based on demographic information such as population size, age, and sex distribution over a period determined by the user, which is provided by population projections generated in the DemProj module of the Spectrum suite of models. Using this demographic information, RAPID generates projections of the socioeconomic impacts of population change in various sectors, including the economy, education, health, urbanization and agriculture. The model combines socioeconomic indicators—such as labor force participation, primary school enrollment, and number of nurses per capita—with demographic information and population projections to estimate impacts up to 30 years into the future. RAPID quantifies the human resources and other indicators, such as teachers, schools, jobs, health care workers, that will be required in the future based on the underlying population projections.
Through the support of USAID-funded policy projects, most recently the Health Policy Project, RAPID has been applied in numerous countries, and remains an essential advocacy tool for family planning.
Development and application of the model is led by country partners, such as the National Population Commission or Ministry of Health of a given country. Policymakers and civil society leaders tailor the advocacy messages and serve as family planning champions. RAPID uses country-specific data and makes projections that are tied to the country’s goals and priorities, such as those stated in national policies, vision statements, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Adaptable, User-Friendly, and Results-Oriented
RAPID is a Windows-based program. It is downloaded for free online, and findings are easily incorporated into PowerPoint templates. This makes it easy to use in low-tech settings and by stakeholders with limited computer skills.
Presentations can be easily tailored to different audiences, including parliamentarians, non-health ministries (e.g., finance, education, and agriculture), religious leaders, and the media. RAPID inspires dialogue to renew commitment to family planning. For example, RAPID analyses helped convince the government of Rwanda to include family planning in its Vision for 2020 and the government of Mali to list family planning among the priority health interventions in its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
RAPID Country Applications
- RAPID Nigeria: How Fertility Affects Development (Presentation, Brief, Poster)
- RAPID Nigeria: Why Fertility Affects Health (Presentation, Brief, Poster)
- RAPID Uganda Brief: Population Factors and National Development
- RAPID Uganda Brief: From Commitment to Action
- RAPID Uganda: Presentation
RAPIDWomen is an interactive software tool that links family planning and women-centered strategies, thereby demonstrating how investing in these programs can increase quality of life for women, girls, and families, as well as overall development. The model can be used to create an evidence base for women’s rights advocates, government leaders, and women’s organizations to advocate for increased investments in family planning/reproductive health and other women-centered interventions in their countries.