MSI Ethiopia influences deal to increase national budget for family planning commodities.
The Ethiopian government has demonstrated support for family planning by increasing the budget for contraceptive products in the 2023/2024 fiscal year. MSI’s advocacy efforts have proved instrumental in contributing to increased budget allocations.
Prior to the new allocation, Ethiopia had a significant annual shortfall in the family planning commodities budget, estimated at a drop of 100 million Ethiopian Birr, or 1.4 million British pounds. If the shortfall is not met, stockouts and shortages will increase and women will be denied choice.
The 2023/2024 allocation has increased from 100 million to 300 million ETB. Approximately two thirds of the budget came from increased donor contributions, and the final third came from public resources, as government budget allocations were doubled compared with previous years.
The government had already signed a three-year country Compact with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, and UNFPA and a number of donors including the Gates Foundation and Packard Foundation, which provided a platform for discussion and negotiation, and brought other donors into the commitment making space. It also included a financial commitment from the government, which the team used to hold the Ministry accountable for commitments made.
MSI’s advocacy started in the previous financial year with a sensitisation meeting attended by 300 MPs and Ministry of Health officials. This was followed by a field visit organised for 18 MPs who are chairs or deputy chairs of the 11 parliamentary standing committees, selected because of their role as agenda setters in parliament. Subsequent activities with parliamentarians also secured the support of the Deputy Speaker. This high-level support motivated the parliamentarians to mobilise support for family planning in the national budget when the issue landed in parliament for a vote. MSI Ethiopia ensured they met frequently with MPs to reinforce their messages about the national family planning commodity gap and the economic benefits of addressing public need for supplies. This consolidated support and built MP confidence and commitment to advocate for family planning.
MSI also led the development of advocacy communication materials for members of the Consortium of RH Association’s, so all civil society partners were united behind one message.
Key officials from the Ministry of Finance also attended an MSI site visit, as their support was key to building an understanding of the link between family planning and economic growth and for building support in a Ministry that has either opposed family planning or been ambivalent in the past. The Ministry officials reported that they now understood that family planning was not just a health issue, it was an economic development issue and pledged to champion family planning.
MSI Ethiopia also utilised the UNFPA Match Fund, which financially matches a country’s public spending on quality contraceptives (currently capped at $1.5 million, increasing to $1.9 million in the next fiscal year). UNFPA are currently verifying the Ethiopian governments expenditure to then release the Match Funds. If approved this will give the govt an additional $1.5 million dollars of donated contraceptives.