A Template for Program Development
Transitions: Community Participation
Volume 14, No. 3, April 2002
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By Nicole Cheetham, MHS, Deputy Director, International Division, Advocates for Youth
In March 1998, Advocates for Youth and the Pacific Institute for Women's Health initiated a four-year project in Burkina Faso to assist rural communities in Kompienga, Boulgu, and Sissili provinces in identifying priorities and designing and implementing strategies related to adolescent reproductive and sexual health. The project also builds capacity among partners in Burkina Faso, including lead partner Mwangaza Action and local youth-serving organizations (YSOs) Association pour le Développement de la Région de Bittou, Le Reseau des Jeunes de la Sissili et du Ziro, and L'Association des Jeunes pour le Développement de Pama.*
Phase I: Identifying Priority Issues—Based on approaches developed by Save the Children and the National Cooperative Business Association, and with assistance from Advocates and Mwangaza, the YSOs developed a methodology to mobilize their communities—including youth—regarding adolescent reproductive and sexual health. Village committees, comprised predominantly of youth, used village assemblies, role-plays, interviews, and folk media to assess adolescent reproductive and sexual health. Committee members interviewed 547 youth ages 11 to 21, 405 parents, and 51 service providers. Youth and adults in the communities identified priorities, including HIV and STIs, contraceptive knowledge and use, female genital mutilation, parent-child communication about sexuality, and adolescents' use of health care services.
Phase II: Identifying Community-Based Interventions to Address Priority Issues—Using the same methodology, Advocates and Mwangaza trained the YSOs' staff on working with their communities to identify strategies to address priority issues. Selected strategies included peer education; use of folk and modern media; information, education, and communication (IEC); peer education home visits regarding parent-child communication; and workshops for health care providers on making services friendly to youth.
Phase III: Preparing for Community-Based Interventions—Advocates and Mwangaza trained in each community regarding its selected interventions. The YSOs and village committees then implemented the strategies, with ongoing technical assistance and support from Mwangaza.
Phase IV: Implementing Community-Based Interventions—The YSOs, in collaboration with the village committees, support, implement, and manage the community-based interventions. Currently, about 50 peer educators—25 young women and 25 young men—reach approximately 750 youth per month through group talks, counseling sessions, and home visits. In addition, the YSOs support the peer educators in activities that include theater, role-plays, and video presentations. Advocates, Mwangaza, and the YSOs train health center personnel in providing youth-friendly services.
Phase V: Final Evaluation—Towards the end of the project, the Pacific Institute for Women's Health will conduct surveys and collect additional data to assess levels of community participation, changes in capacity among local partners, and changes in adolescents' reproductive and sexual health knowledge and behavior.
Although evaluation is not complete, project partners agree that community participation and youth involvement have been valuable and effective in addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health in these rural, highly traditional communities. Community youth, in partnership with adults, successfully mobilize to address unwanted pregnancy, HIV/STI, female genital mutilation, barriers to reproductive health services, and lack of parent-child communication. In addition, local administrative and religious authorities, involved from the beginning, provide sustained and impressive support.
* Advocates for Youth provides Mwangaza and the YSOs with technical assistance on program development and implementation while the Pacific Institute is responsible for ongoing evaluation.
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Transitions (ISSN 1097-1254) © 2002, is a quarterly publication of Advocates for Youth—Helping young people make safe and responsible decisions about sex. For permission to reprint, contact Transitions' editor at 202.419.3420.
Editor: Sue Alford
Editor: Sue Alford