Africa Region Strategy 2022-2025

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Africa Region Strategy 2022-2025

Table of Contents


Executive summary ..................................................... 3

The Ibis Reproductive Health South Africa office opened in April 2003 in Johannesburg. Over the last 18 years, Ibis has built a wide range of partnerships in South Africa and across the Africa region, where Ibis has led research on abortion—including, but not limited to, medication abortion and quality of care—that has informed policy and service delivery. In 2017, we completed a clinical trial on pain management in first-trimester abortion and launched a working group of researchers and providers of second trimester services. Our adolescent and youth work through the mmoho campaign continues to advocate for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information, as well as inform policies focused on young people. We provide a detailed timeline of Ibis’s key research project later in this document.

Purpose of the strategic plan ..................................... 4

Mission.......................................................................... 4 Vision ............................................................................ 4 Principled partnerships ............................................... 4 Our history ................................................................... 5 Why the Africa Region Strategy is critical ................ 6 Strategic focus areas .................................................... 7

Ibis’s Africa Region Strategy for 2022-2025 is an extension of Ibis’s global strategic plan for 2018-2023, which affirms our commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide. In expanding work in the African region, it is critical to respond to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues that address lived realities in the region and inform what donors should prioritise. I’m excited to invite you to read and engage with our plan. We welcome your thoughts and feedback and look forward to working together in the future. Warmly,

Tshegofatso Bessenaar

Executive summary Ibis Reproductive Health is a global non-profit research organization that envisions a world where high-quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services are simpler, easier to access, and more affordable; where policies are grounded in evidence; and where all people have autonomy and full control over their reproductive health. Ibis opened its Johannesburg, South Africa office in 2003. Over the past 18 years, we have built a strong track record of rigorous research, and have established a robust network of advocates, policymakers, and reproductive health service-delivery partners throughout South Africa and into the Southern African region. Our work focuses on ensuring all people have the right and ability to access safe, affordable, high-quality abortion care; transforming access to abortion and contraception through bold service-delivery and technology innovations; and expanding access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. We have shown we can use research to inform policy and service delivery change that makes a real difference in people’s lives. Ibis’s South Africa office works in collaboration with local partners that include government departments, community-based organisations, youth-led organisations, academics, advocates, and broader civil society through principled partnerships to improve and expand comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights services and information to broader geographies and communities, including women and girls, youth and adolescents, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, and asexual and/or ally + (LGBTQIA+). Over the past four years, we have reviewed partner feedback from various feedback sessions—including a praxis panel with regional partners, key stakeholder interviews and dialogues, and a desk review of SRH work in the Africa region—and engaged staff and Board members in developing strategic goals for our Africa region work.

As we broaden our work across the Africa region, we strive to make progress on the following mutually supporting strategic areas: Ensure expansion of our work, partnerships, and presence across the Africa region Increase efforts to diversify our revenue base and identify new resources for our Africa region work

Expand bold and rigorous sexual and reproductive health and rights research highlighting lived realities in the region This is a three-year strategic plan with a companion implementation plan that will be reviewed and updated annually.

Purpose of the strategic plan


Ibis Reproductive Health has decided to develop and adopt an Africa Region Strategy for 2022-2025, which is an extension of Ibis’s global strategic plan for 2018-2023. This strategic plan affirms our commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide. Our core strategy is conducting bold, rigorous research that meets the highest ethical standards. Recognizing that research is necessary but insufficient for large-scale change, we have elevated principled partnerships, so critical to our work to date, as an equally important core strategy. The focus of our 2022-2025 Africa Region Strategy is to build on our many partnerships across the Africa region as well as expand principled partnerships and rigorous SRH research undertaken from the Johannesburg, South Africa office across wider African geographies.

The Ibis South Africa office drives change through bold, rigorous research and principled partnerships that advance sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health across the Africa region. The office also supports Ibis global initiatives aimed at ensuring people worldwide have the right and ability to access safe, affordable, high-quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information.

This plan has been accomplished with full support from the Ibis Reproductive Health Senior Management Team, Board of Directors and staff, and a wide range of partners from South Africa and beyond. The planning process was conducted in consultation with target partners and staff members in order to identify needs and involve all key stakeholders and partners to adapt and localise Ibis’s mission and vision, as well as to sensitise participants on various steps involved in the strategic planning and its vital importance to the organisation.


collaboration & shared power


rigor & excellence

Vision We envision an Africa where high-quality sexual and reproductive health information and services are easy to access, affordable for all, and available without unnecessary medical requirements or legal impediments. In this Africa, policies are grounded in rigorous evidence and designed to improve the lives and health of all people, including women, young people, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, and asexual and/or ally (LGBTQIA+). Our vision of success is an inclusive and just world where everyone has the power to exercise their human right to live a pleasurable, safe, and healthy sexual and reproductive life.

Principled partnerships We strive for partnerships that are grounded in the principles of respect, mutual accountability, transparent and equitable sharing of power, and the use of research results to positively impact people’s lives. In addition to advocates, policymakers, and stakeholders working to advance SRHR, the communities where we conduct our research are our key partners.


justice & equity


Our history Launch of the 100% work-from-home policy due to COVID-19 Building a Framework for Evaluation and Communication in SRH: A collaboration among Ford Foundation grantees in Southern Africa

Medical abortion: The possibilities for introduction in the public sector in South Africa

Ibis RSA office opens

Medication abortion in the private sector in South Africa

Research and Evaluation Activities for the Reproductive Health Education and Advocacy programme (RHEAP) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal





Inception of the Methods for Improving Reproductive Health in Africa



Pilot project on SRHR initiated: Research with young women and communities in Soweto

Pharmacists’ knowledge and perceptions of emergency contraception pills in Soweto and Johannesburg Central Business District, South Africa


mmoho teen action workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe

Expanding women’s options: Scaling up medication abortion in public sector facilities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa




Teenage Pregnancy Exchange meeting hosted by Ibis Reproductive Health and Ford Foundation

Young women and community SRH research continued in Soweto

Telemedicine work in collaboration with Marie Stopes Zambia Ibis RSA hosts FIGO committee meeting in Johannesburg



Inception of comprehensive sexuality education work


Launch of the mmoho campaign

Observational study of the mifepristone-misoprostol regimen for second-trimester abortion in Western Cape, South Africa

Quality of care study in Ghana and South Africa



OTC combination MifepristoneMisoprostol Regimen for Medical Abortion Label Comprehension study


Inception and data collection for the WHO pain control in early medical abortion study

Understanding young men’s perceptions of their role in teenage pregnancy and HIV/STI transmission research study



Launch of the Africa Regional Strategic Plan 2022-2025

2021 National SRHR study inception

Ibis 16th anniversary RSA event and presentation of Ibis Reproductive Health Global 2018-2023 Strategic Plan

Drafting of the Africa Strategy

Why the Africa Region Strategy is critical The body of research and partnerships we have built position us to expand our work and partnerships in the region. As we expand our work in the Africa region, it is critical to respond to sexual and reproductive health and rights issues that address priorities, needs, and lived realities in the region. In doing this, Ibis will play a role in bridging the gap between the global community and the lived reality in the region by:

Doing more community-based research and participatory research Documenting the impact of global events—e.g. changing political landscape, pandemics, etc.—on partnerships and the work that organisations do in the region Creating spaces that allow people to connect and different types of organisations to engage

Working directly and partnering with the communities we research Knowing Ibis’s footprint As we expand our work across broader African geographies, we plan to position ourselves in funder discussions, partnerships, and programming in ways that advance our Africa Region Strategy goals, using monitoring and evaluation as a tool to inform effective strategic planning. Knowing our strengths Straddling the intersections, particularly the research-practitioner intersection, the researcher-community engagement intersection, and the local specific knowledge-policy intersection. This is a strength that is very valuable in the broader Africa region context.

Ibis as a convener and connector. There is a real opportunity to use this strength in the field to pool knowledge across different Africa regions and share evidence and best practices. Ibis as a strategy manager. Ibis staff bring expertise in the measurement of progress. Sexual and reproductive health expertise. Ibis has significant expertise in conducting research on SRH— particularly abortion, an area of research that few organisations prioritise. Global research expertise. Ibis conducts research in over 30 countries across the globe, resulting in rich and diverse evidence base that inform policy and service delivery approaches. Ibis’s greatest strengths lie in our expert staff, longstanding partnerships—including with government and policymakers—and unflagging commitment to our mission. Our staff is comprised of highly trained social science and clinical researchers, public health practitioners, and strategic communications experts.

Strategic focus areas

Expand networks, build partnerships, and launch research to expand abortion access in countries with restrictive laws

Increase Ibis’s visibility, particularly work from the South Africa office, across the Africa region

Advocate for and advance national and regional policies that promote the right to safe abortion services and care

We seek to expand our research agenda across the Africa region by broadening our networks and intentionally highlighting work conducted out of the South Africa office across the Africa region and beyond. We will identify key partners in the region and build on work we have undertaken to amplify our presence across the Africa region.

Improve abortion access by building on our abortion stigma research

Strengthen second trimester and later abortion work to respond to maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion and limited access to the service despite its importance

Identify and test technology and telehealth approaches to expand safe abortion access

Lift the profile of Ibis South Africa office leadership

Highlight strategy and research driven by the Ibis South Africa team

Identify and participate in key SRH forums, including online forums, across the Africa region

Transform SRH access in the region by responding to gaps in HIV/ AIDS, GBV, and LGBTQI+ research

Highlight and expand to wider geographies our aim to always conduct work that responds to local issues and lived realities of communities we research

Develop a communications strategy for expanded dissemination of work led by Ibis’s South Africa office

Ibis aims to explore how we can incorporate questions/assessment of important linkages between abortion access and GBV, learning from extensive expertise/research in South Africa and the region. We strive to better understand intersections with abortion and other SRH focus areas while identifying partners/ways to build on partnerships we have been developing to further flesh out a research agenda that addresses HIV as part of a comprehensive SRH approach.

Transform and expand access to abortion by building our networks, and identify and test bold service delivery and technology innovations Ibis seeks to improve and expand abortion access to wider geographies across the Africa region, exploring innovative ways to expand access— especially in countries with abortion restrictions—while also building on our body of work in the Africa region. We aim to continue working with current partners, including researchers, advocates, youth, policymakers, and broader civil society. Intentional efforts will be made to identify new partners and networks across the Africa region.

Identify key funders of our SRH research focus areas in Africa and establish where their priorities align with ours

Establish and highlight sexual and reproductive needs of LGBTQI+ people and strategies to improve related polices and services

Develop partnerships and leverage data to shift the GBV and LGBTQI+ dialogue

Use evidence and identify strategies to link HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care with safe abortion care to better meet people’s comprehensive SRHR needs

Ibis drives change through bold, rigorous research and principled partnerships that advance sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide.

First Floor, Hillside House, 17 Empire Road Parktown 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa

March 2022