Visualizing Family Planning Indicators to Better Understand FP2020 Progress

Linking Family Planning and Global Development

Ruwaida Salem

CCP | Associate Managing Editor, Global Health: Science and Practice

Sarah Fohl

(Formerly) CCP | Program Officer II
How to calculate FP2020's first two core indicators

The modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) is a percentage of how many women are using modern contraception in a given year out of all the women of reproductive age in a country.

Have you ever glanced at a spreadsheet and felt overwhelmed at all the information in front of you? Have you ever felt lost in a sea of numbers and wondered if you would ever completely understand everything? So have we! This is why we are excited to add data visualizations—including simple charts, graphs, interactive visualizations, and infographics—to our multimedia collection at the Knowledge for Health Project (K4Health). Such data visualizations can provide insight into complex data sets. At K4Health, we value the importance of using data to inform program development and strategic decision-making. We also understand the need for concise, graphically appealing, and thought-provoking representations of evidence in order to more effectively advocate family planning. This is why we decided to choose FP2020 indicators for our first data visualization.

At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, the global health community set an ambitious goal: By the year 2020, enable an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s 69 poorest countries to access modern contraceptive methods. The most direct measure of progress toward this FP2020 goal is the difference between the number of users of modern contraception in a given year and the number of users in 2012. People want to know how many more additional users we’ve reached in 2013, in 2014, in 2015. Are we on our way to reaching the goal?

mCPR increases: Pakistan and Cameroon

Pakistan and Cameroon had similar increases in mCPR since 2012 even though Pakistan had nearly 7 times the number of additional users compared with Cameroon.

There have been significant strides so far—in the three years since the goal was set, 24.4 million more women and girls are using modern methods in the world’s poorest countries. This is a great achievement, but this number cannot tell us whether programs are reaching a higher percentage of the population “eligible” to use contraception (that is, all women of reproductive age). Therefore, we must take into account the modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) in order to better understand the impact of programs in each country. For example, India has had the highest number of additional users each year since 2012, but with such a large and growing population, the country must accelerate programmatic efforts to reach a greater proportion of its population and increase mCPR growth beyond historic patterns.

Our data viz piece was created using the free Tableau Public software, allowing viewers to engage in several ways:

  • Interact with the viz: Click on the data in the charts to dig deeper.
  • Share the viz with your network of colleagues and friends.
  • Download the viz and the data set.

We hope you have fun exploring the data in a new way and that it better informs your programs, advocacy efforts, and perspectives on family planning indicators.

We welcome your feedback on the FP2020 data visualization and your thoughts on data visualization in general. Email us at or