A New Frontier for Enhancing Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights among Young People in Southern Africa

By Percy Ngwerume (Social Accountability Officer at SAfAIDS)

Established in 1994, SAfAIDS is a regional non-profit organization with its Headquarters based in Harare, Zimbabwe, with country offices in Pretoria (South Africa), Manzini (Swaziland) and Lusaka (Zambia), and Focal Points in Lesotho and Malawi. SAfAIDS’ vision is that people in Africa realize their Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) & Rights and are free from the burden of HIV, TB and other related health developmental issues.

Social accountability monitoring of young people’s SRH services is part of a regional policy and advocacy programme, called Transforming Lives (2018-2021). The programme works at the regional level to influence policy in 3 thematic SRHR spheres of sexual gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancy and unsafe abortion with links to maternal mortality and access to youth friendly SRHR information and services. The programme activities and outcomes will contribute to achieving sustainable development goal (SDG) 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). The programme is premised around four pillars of intervention: policy development; policy advocacy; social accountability monitoring; and evidence and knowledge sharing:

Strategic Pillars of the Transforming Lives Programme

The MobiSAM initiative is expected to contribute towards Pillar 3 of the programme, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of regional youth organisations and networks in social accountability monitoring of the delivery of youth-friendly SRH information and services, in southern Africa, by 2021. Adoption of the MobiSAM mobile application to collect and present social accountability monitoring data is a key innovation in the adolescent youth targeted programme. This is being done through a partnership with Rhodes University, who previously developed and piloted a similar application with Makana Municipality, that focuses on reporting and monitoring basic service delivery. The application is expected to facilitate real time interaction between young people and SRH service providers, resulting in improved service quality and closer engagement between service users and service providers.

On the 14th of June 2018 SAfAIDS hosted the regional social accountability monitoring partner’s induction meeting. This was the first opportunity for direct engagement between SAfAIDS and implementing partners, who will pilot social accountability monitoring of young people’s SRH services. Six countries have been selected to implement the pilot in one intervention site each. The six partners from each country include: Africa Directions, Zambia; Buwalo-Matalikilo Trust (BMT), Zimbabwe; Kgorogo Social Investments, South Africa; Khulisa Umntfwana, eSwatini; Phelisanang Bophelong (PB) and Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement (AYISE), Malawi. The MobiSAM project team from Rhodes University were also in attendance to give technical orientation on piloting of the mobile application, as well as share and engage with stakeholders around the feasible realisation of the project in their contexts.

There is a serious issue of corruption in our region; funds meant for public health are usually misappropriated, how do citizens deal with this, especially if they are connected to politicians?” Chrispin Chomba (SAfAIDS), Speaking on the Concept of Social Accountability at the Induction Meeting