COVID-19 has disrupted the way adolescents build relationships, plan for their futures, and access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. As schools across Africa close and the economy slows down, a spike in adolescent pregnancy is almost certain—in the aftermath of Ebola, West African countries saw a 65% increase in adolescent pregnancy. With overstretched health systems, limited mobility, and disrupted access to resources, we are bound to see unmet demand in SRH information and services for adolescents.
How might we help adolescents get access to the SRH information and support in a physically distant world?
We partnered with five organizations to create and test self-care resources that would be compelling and informative for youth during this time. During our research we learned young people wanted to engage and share experiences in larger group formats in order to hear different perspectives; but when it came to more personal matters, they preferred more private forums, like texting with a provider. Both girls and boys wanted to see and hear content where boys had an equal role to play in health decision making. Finally, when we were narrowing the medium, we found that voice notes resonated most with low-literacy audiences— and felt more personal, like they were listening in on a conversation.
After exploring and trying different ideas, we launched Voice-Up, a resource with downloadable self-care audio, visual assets, and service details that can be shared. The site gathers the voices of providers, young people’s testimonials on self-care products, as well as dialogue-sparking conversations between young people.
Everyone is navigating these tough times on top of trying to navigate new relationships. Listeners can eavesdrop on Caro and Kevo planning to meet up and wondering if their hangout will result in sex, or on Paul and Brayo who are confiding and supporting each other when there is a mishap in bed. These scripts were co-written and recorded by young people and are designed as audio clips to be able to share on many different platforms, such as radio, Whatsapp, social media, and more.
Voice-Up is meant to inspire organizations, big and small, to reach youth in new ways. Designed with young people in Nairobi, we hope partners might use this to validate insights, adapt the content to fit their unique contexts, and even build new modules around adolescent self-care.
Partners: HCD Exchange, Jhpiego, In Their Hands, and Maisha Youth