A  community- academic partnership to co-design an intervention package that identifies and bridges equity gaps among high vulnerable adolescent girls and young women.

DWB together with the Makerere University John Hopkins University Research Collaboration carried out a series of exploratory workshops, using human centered design methodology, with teen mothers in Baltimore and Kampala. The aim was to identify and bridge the existing equity gaps among the highly vulnerable adolescent girls and young women.

Partner: Makerere University School of Public Health, MUJHU, Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre Year: 2019 Sector: Service Design, Research

The Challenge:

In Uganda, adolescents represent 34.8% of the total population with a 22% school drop-out rate. The teenage pregnancy rates are high with 42% of all pregnancies in the country being teenage pregnancies (UNFPA, 2016). Child marriage and premarital teenage pregnancies remain major life crises for adolescent girls in Uganda, driven by poverty, illiteracy and poor sexual reproductive health education. The goal of the SISTERS project was to create and foster a collaborative interdisciplinary partnership including beneficiary, community service providers and academics between Baltimore/USA and Kampala/Uganda with a focus on adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). 

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 Through the HCD participatory approach led by DWB, the team sought to identify those AGYW most vulnerable to poor Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) outcomes, as well as  define their priority needs and potential interventions to optimize the feasibility and scalability of SRH for AGYW. A collaborative approach was used to inspire differing perspectives, and to increase knowledge and understanding that would create impactful change in local and global communities. By focusing on the drivers of vulnerabilities of AGYW and learning from existing innovations, DWB engaged with stakeholders including service providers, community leaders and institutions to facilitate interactive dialogue sessions with a focus group of  teenage mothers aged between 17-22yrs old.


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During the exploratory workshops, DWB approached the group with dialogue, assisted by gamification using the Twogere game-based tool, designed to facilitate constructive dialogue over sensitive issues within a group. From the workshops, the main drivers of their vulnerability were poverty, gender inequality and social norms, desperacy and hopelessness. Based on these interactions, the team was able to identify the most crucial needs for any teen mother at the different stages of their experience that includes support, safe spaces, educational tools and programmes, and brought to light the need to focus on addressing avenues for  long-term support, as well as addressing behavioral change amongst women.