Tanzania – Mwanayamala Youth Center
Reaching out to young adolescents: Improving access to sexual and reproductive health information among young adolescents at the Mwananyamala Youth Centre.
The Mwananyamala Youth Centre in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania was established in 1996 by AMREF as a response to addressing unmet needs of sexual and Reproductive Health among youth aged 10-25 years particularly in Kinondoni municipality. This area is characterized by high prevalence of substance abuse, HIV/AIDS/STIs, and early pregnancies.
In the absence of adequate and correct knowledge of their sexuality and reproductive biology predisposes young people to a number of reproductive health problems. Young people do not get adequate and appropriate life planning skills; they have inadequate information about their sexuality and do not know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
The rationale for establishment of the centre was therefore to contribute to the improvement of the health of young people by adapting various intervention strategies. The interventions were aimed at shaping sex-related behaviours by enabling youths appreciate the essence of reducing the number of sexual partners, safer sexual practices and the use of appropriate family planning methods.
Since the beginning of 2007 The Barrington Education Initiative has been working with AMREF (African Medical & Research Foundation) to implement a project on increasing access to reproductive health information among adolescents in Kinondoni Municipality, Dar es Salaam City. The project is implemented in collaboration with Kinondoni Municipal Council. This is part of efforts to increase the capacity of adolescents to address sexual and reproductive health through provision of correct information. The project covers six schools in Makumbusho ward, where Mwananyamala Youth Centre is located.
The project works directly with six schools in the Makumbusho ward, where the Centre is located and with the young people in the area and aims at reaching adolescents aged 10-14 years with relevant adolescent friendly reproductive health information.
The project team worked closely with the schools to conduct school-based activities in addition to other activities which were conducted at Mwananyamala Youth Centre. Most events involved dissemination of ARH information through theatre art, drama and sports competitions.
The project approach is divided into three components.
- The clinical component includes VCT, STI management, and provision of contraceptives.
- The second component focuses on edutainment programs to capture young people through their interests, improve their talents in performing theatre, sports and games while equipping them with knowledge and skills that will enable them to cope with high-risk situations and prevent HIV/AIDS/STI infections.
- Community involvement is the third component, targeting parents and community leaders and peers to provide ‘life skills’ training as a means of behavior change communication to youth accompanied by community participatory theatre (CPT).
The main objective of the project has been to increase access to reproductive health and HIV prevention programs and life skills training for young adolescents (8-14 years) by increasing age-adapted recreational and edutainment activities.
Efforts have been made to create awareness and increase support from parents and teachers, to improve availability of information on adolescent reproductive health and HIV prevention among younger adolescents and to integrate adolescent reproductive health issues into edutainment activities at the centre.
The intervention is expected to increase availability of ARH information, equip adolescents with the necessary skills to enhance the capacity of young adolescents to access reproductive health information. In so doing it will help the adolescents to understand RH issues including skills to avoid risks associated with reproductive health such as engaging into early sexual activity, early pregnancies, STI/HIV infection and drug abuse.
The next phase of this project will aim at strengthening the partnership with the Kinondoni Municipal Council and communities neighboring the schools. In recognition of few reading materials, and the need to spread the sources of information, the resource centre will be strengthened through installation of internet services. Emphasis will be placed on training of teachers and pupils as health peer educators.