Burkina Faso


Public Health, Gender

Type of Investment


Project Stage

Test & Transition

Length of Investment


Investment Overview

A $2 million grant to rigorously test the impact of a radio-based behaviour change campaign to encourage women in Burkina Faso to prevent unwanted pregnancies through the use of modern contraceptives.


The Development Challenge

Burkina Faso has a fertility rate of six children born to each woman, and modern contraceptive use is only at 15%. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the main barriers to contraceptive uptake are lack of information and awareness as well as fear of contraceptives.


The Innovation

Development Media International tested a radio-based saturation mass media campaign to encourage the use of modern contraceptives in Burkina Faso. The behaviour change campaign focused on overcoming the cognitive barriers and social norms that prevent the uptake of modern contraceptives. During the pilot phase, over 600,000 women of reproductive age were reached. During the subsequent national scale-up, it was estimated that approximately 3.8 million women were reached.


Our Investment

GIFs grant of $2 million supported a cluster-randomised controlled trial in Burkina Faso to test whether the mass media family planning campaign was able to increase uptake of modern contraceptive methods. The RCT was the only one of its kind in the world testing the effectiveness of a family planning mass media campaign.


Investment Objective

To undertake a three-year cluster-randomised controlled trial to test whether a mass media campaign alone can increase modern contraceptive prevalence.


Why we invested

Potential for cost-effective impact: The innovation had significant potential to be a cost-effective way to promote modern contraceptive usage, and to work across multiple geographies. It has now proved this potential through rigorous testing and scaling-up. Many other donors and governments will be able to assess this evidence when making their own funding and policy decisions.

Sector impact and learning and commitment to rigorous evidence: This RCT was able to contribute to the evidence base of behaviour change health media campaigns. DMI has demonstrated a strong commitment to institutional learning and evaluation.


Development Media International in numbers


Unwanted pregnancies averted in 2020 alone

3.8 million

Women reached during national scale-up


Development Media International Impact Brief

Development Media International (DMI) has sought to rigorously demonstrate radio broadcasting of appropriately designed messages as a means of overcoming information barriers and social norms. DMI has thereby catalysed the widespread use of radio messaging, resulting in adoption at a national scale and beyond.

Their pilot demonstration programme was set up as a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Between June 2016 and December 2018, the programme broadcast messages 10 times per day on market-leading local radio stations, using 60-second spots in local languages. The messages focused on addressing the key barriers to the adoption of modern contraceptives, which had been identified through formative research. The programmes were broadcast in eight radio catchment areas, whilst another eight served as controls.

Use of GIF Funds

In 2016, GIF provided a $2 million grant to enable DMI to produce radio content that promotes the use of modern contraceptives and to work with radio stations to integrate family planning messages into their programming.

Impact to Date

The pilot phase RCT was successful, as reported by Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021).[1] It found that the mass radio campaign led to a 5.9 percentage point increase in the modern contraceptive prevalence rate.[2] As hoped, this led to a nationwide scale-up in 2019.

During the pilot phase, over 600,000 women of reproductive age were reached by the mass radio campaign. During the national scale-up, it was estimated that approximately 3.8 million women were reached. Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021) estimated that due to the national scale-up of the mass radio campaign, 225,000 additional women are using modern contraceptives. We estimate that the increase in the use of modern contraception averted over 42,000 unintended pregnancies in 2020. Using information on Burkina Faso’s maternal mortality rate and unofficial abortion rate, we estimate that the mass radio campaign has saved over 220 lives to date and reduced the number of unsafe abortions. Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021) also found that the impact on contraception translated into an improvement in self-reported health and well-being among women impacted by the mass radio campaign.

To estimate the social value created by DMI by the reduction in numbers of maternal deaths and unsafe abortions, we used estimates of the value of a statistical life for Burkina Faso, which is commonly used in cost-benefit analyses. The VSL represents the economic value that individuals are willing to pay to reduce the risk of death. We estimate that during the period of GIF’s investment (2016-2020), DMI generated $15 million in discounted net social benefits. Accounting for the fact that other investors also invested in DMI, we estimate that $9.4 million in discounted net social benefits was generated by GIF’s investment.

GIF awarded a $2 million grant to DMI in 2016, disbursed between 2016 and 2019. The 2015 discounted value of GIF’s investment is $1.75 million. We estimate that GIF’s investment in DMI has returned over $5.00 in social benefits to date, per dollar invested by GIF.[3]

[1] Glennerster, R., Murray, J., and Pouliquen, V. (2021). The Media or the Message? Experimental Evidence on Mass Media and Modern Contraception Uptake in Burkina Faso. CSAE Working Paper WPS/2021-04.

[2] Modern contraception includes implants, injectables, condoms, and pills. Approximately 44% of modern contraception use is in the form of implants, 32% in the form of injectables, and 13% in the form of pills. The weighted effectiveness of these methods is 95%.

[3] Refer to GIF (2021) for more details on how the social benefits and GIF’s return on investment were calculated.