Background: Young Kenyans often lack places to safely ask questions, or talk to anyone about their sexual feelings. For various cultural and social reasons (not limited to Kenya, or Africa in general) sex education is not a topic many parents and teachers feel comfortable or happy to take on which often results in young people not having the knowledge or confidence needed to avoid unwanted and/or risky sexual activity.
To try to tackle this the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), works with groups of adolescents and youth to help them understand their choices when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
What did the program involve? TICAH created safe spaces for peer groups (young women and young men separately) to think about attraction, intimacy, safety, health, and pleasure. The programme involved a holistic approach that focused on SRH issues, including HIV prevention for young people for discussions. Young people involved in the project were involved in discussion groups of not more than 30 young people to share thoughts, experiences and lessons learnt around SRH for a duration of six months. As part of the discussion groups that also produced short five minute films recorded with a true story collected from the discussion groups told in such a way that it evoked discussions on each choice made in the film.
Through social media, TICAH partnered with other local organisations working with young women for twitter chats and sessions to discuss current affairs relating to young women’s choices and challenges on sexual health. The twitter chats sessions were moderated by a facilitator well informed on SRH Issues.
Why this approach: In terms of the social media approach, Twitter works well because discussions and chats can be pre-planned and young people can prepare in advance. These discussions can then be storified and shared in other platforms for young people to read.
In terms of video production, short videos are a useful way to bring young viewers together to explore issues and to share their experiences with each other.
Results observed: Scenario videos have reached over 250 young people who have reported that their knowledge has increased and their behaviour re: safe and wanted sexual encounters has also changed as a result of learning from the scenario videos. However, actual behaviour change can be very difficult to measure
Lessons learnt: Scenario videos are a very effective tool in behaviour change because they opens up space for frank discussions that are sometimes regarded a taboo. Young people learn better in spaces where they feel safe and confidentiality is upheld. Twitter chats works better in a controlled environment where young people are notified earlier of chat discussions.