She Decides: Belgium deploys big data for better access to family planning
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo announced that Belgium will cooperate with its partner countries, Benin and Senegal, to improve access to family planning services through the use of big data and satellite imagery. Belgian data company Bluesquare and the universities of Brussels and Namur will also participate. Today, Belgium, Benin and Senegal jointly present the partnership at the United Nations in New York.
Every year, more than 1 billion euros is invested in making family planning available to girls and women. Together with its partners, Belgium is now setting up pilot projects in Benin and Senegal to better verify if these investments are effectively made in the most efficient way possible, if they reach the desired aim and if they reach the girls and women who need them. A frequent issue is the availability of the necessary medical materials in dispensaries that offer family planning: this is the result of dysfunctional supply chains.
Developing a broad data platform
The pilot project will be led by a consortium consisting of two Belgian universities (Namur and Brussels) and a Belgian data company, Bluesquare. On the basis of big data and satellite imagery, they will make up to date analyses of the precise access of girls and women to family planning in Benin and Senegal. The aim is to develop a broad data platform that can also be used in other countries to improve access to family planning.
Today, the three countries present the pilot project on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador Goedele Liekens is moderating the presentation, where among others the Beninese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Aurelie Agbenonci, Bluesquare CEO Nicolas De Borman and the Senegalese Minister of State and former Minister for Health, Awa Marie Coll Seck, will take the floor.
Belgium’s pioneering role
Alexander De Croo says: “If we want to give girls and women more opportunities to lead the life they want, easy access to family planning is crucial. This project should lead to better availability of contraceptives and easier access to information about family planning. It shows how the use of new technologies leads to better results on the ground. Aiming for innovation to strengthen women’s rights is the pioneering role Belgium’s international development policy wants to play.”