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Project Name: Joint Programme ("Menyumenyeshe")
Donor: Embassy of the Netherlands in Burundi
Partners: UNFPA, Cordaid, Rutgers, Burundian government
Objective: The Joint Programme aims to reach 1.1 million adolescents and youth (ages 10-24) in Burundi with quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services.
Burundi has a young population, with about one-third being between the ages of 10-24 years old. Adolescents face many sexual and reproductive health challenges, as sexuality is a taboo topic and young people are not typically informed about issues relevant to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. In response to these challenges and to accelerate progress toward larger development goals, the government of Burundi prioritized the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in primary and secondary schools. CARE Burundi has worked closely with the government since 2013 to develop and pilot test a national CSE curriculum, enhance the coverage and quality of adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, and to develop an enabling and supportive environment for adolescent sexual and reproductive health at the community level. In partnership with Rutgers, UNFPA, and Cordaid, CARE Burundi created the Joint Programme (JP) to scale and multiply the impact of this package of interventions nationwide.
The JP takes a multi-pronged approach to impact the underlying causes of poor adolescent sexual and reproductive health by working with the education and health sectors, as well as the wider community, to create and foster an enabling and supportive environment for young people to fulfil their health needs.
Comprehensive sexuality education. Rutgers designed a CSE curriculum called “The World Starts with Me” (WSWM) to help young people to discuss and confront sensitive issues related to love, sexuality, and relationships, including body development, contraceptives, pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections, and sexual violence. CARE took members of the Burundian government to observe how the curriculum was being implemented in Kenya, and the Ministry of Education approved the development of a national CSE curriculum based on the WSWM model shortly thereafter.
Youth-friendly health services. As CSE becomes more widespread in Burundian communities, the demand for quality and age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people is expected to increase. The JP aims to build capacity of health providers to offer sexual and reproductive health information and services to young people in a welcoming and non-judgmental manner. Clinical and non-clinical health center staff are being sensitized to the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and trained to counsel young people on family planning and modern contraception.
Community engagement. At the community level, the JP works with actors with influence in the lives of adolescents and young people (parents and other family members, youth associations, religious and administrative leaders) to build their capacity in supporting youth sexual and reproductive health needs. Young people’s sexual and reproductive health is strongly influenced by factors beyond the individual level, including the social, cultural, economic, and political context. JP staff is working to eliminate the spread of contradictory and inaccurate sexual and reproductive health messages, improve parent-child communication around adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and address unequal social norms that restrict access and accessibility of services to young people.
Meaningful youth participation. CARE recognizes that young people are in the best position to understand their needs, what support and services work best for them, and what barriers must be overcome for their sexual and reproductive health to improve. The JP has involved boys and girls in all layers of program management, and in all steps of the implementation process. Youth associations play an important role in decision-making, and in the coordination and organization of activities at the community level. Youth feedback platforms are part of JP monitoring and evaluation processes, and community actors are learning to listen to the voices of young people.
The JP also includes support and capacity building, including mentorship and training, for young leaders. Some adolescents have volunteered as peer educators, modeling healthy sexual and reproductive health behaviors and guiding discussions sexual and reproductive health with other youth. The goal of these efforts is to improve the quality of the program, but also to foster the confidence, skills building, and empowerment of young people so they can become proactive agents of change in their communities.
As of 2016:
- WSWM module was implemented in 76 schools; 32 master trainers have been trained and have in turn trained 160 teachers (114 men and 46 women) who trained 1280 school leaders (569 boys and 711 girls) and 10.831 students (4,824 boys and 6,007 girls) were reached through school clubs.
- 17,026 students (7,504 boys and 9,520 girls) were sensitized on SRHR and GBV prevention.
- 320 young change agents were trained and are currently conducting youth outreach activities in their community.
- In the health domain, 3465 victims of GBV were treated (209 men/3256 women); 208 nurses (147 men/161 women) were trained on SRH service delivery; 19 health facilities were trained to offer youth-friendly services; and 19 social and community networks were established.