Bridging evidence and practice: Learning from an SLRC action research project

Stephanie Buell, Regina Bash-Taqi, Clare Castillejo, Lisa Denney, Tania Fraser, Muallem Kamara and Henrietta Koroma

Type: Briefing Paper

Country: Sierra Leone

Date: 15/05/2021

Full summary

Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world: 21% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have children, rising to 29% in rural areas (Statistics Sierra Leone and ICF, 2019: 12). The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) has been conducting research on the drivers of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone since 2015, finding that most programming focuses on lack of information and access to contraception, emphasising girls as agents of change, with not enough attention paid to the wider context, especially social and gender norms (Denney et al. 2016).


The ‘Adaptive approaches to reducing teenage pregnancy’ project began in early 2019. A focus on adaptive programming was specifically chosen in recognition of the complex nature of the problem of teenage pregnancy, and because supporting sustainable pathways of change with regard to social and gender norms requires an adaptive, reflective and learning-centred approach. This briefing note, alongside two others that explore adaptive programming and the problem of teenage pregnancy in more depth, forms our final learning from this action research project.