CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS LEARNED, AND
Thirty-five years after the beginning of the international movement for family planning in developing countries, the majority of developing countries have policies to lower population growth and reduce fertility. The vast majority of developing countries support access to family planning services through organized programs that provide contraception to women and men. This support, coupled with that from international donor and funding organizations, has been substantial and has contributed to the increased availability of family planning services. Over half of the world's couples in developing countries uses contraception, and in many countries the level of contraceptive prevalence is over 70 percent. The majority of couples from Catholic, Islamic, and Buddhist countries uses contraception. Family planning has become a norm in many societies and cultures and for many families. However, in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the level of contraceptive prevalence is low. In only two countries, Mauritius and South Africa, is contraceptive prevalence over 50 percent, and in only five additional countries—Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—is prevalence over 25 percent.
While the majority of the world's couples uses contraception, not all needs for contraception have been met by family planning programs. It is estimated that about 17 percent of women of reproductive age in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception; that is, they desire to limit or space future births, but they are not practicing contraception. Satisfying these unmet needs would help reduce fertility, an outstanding national goal in many developing countries,