Beri nama entri Anda
Youth leadership for universal access to HIV prevention and the promotion of reproductive health
What change do you want to bring to the world?
RAJS/BF through advocacy and communication campaigns has created a political and social environment conducive to the health of young people. This led to the creation of a youth ministry and a department of youth and adolescent health. A national strategy for youth health and a national youth policy were adopted. RAJS/BF’s programs and projects have led communities and decision makers to no longer treat sexuality as such a taboo subject, creating an environment for making information, prevention services, and quality care more accessible, including for HIV and reproductive health. It should be noted that there has been a continued decline in the prevalence of HIV and increasing use of contraceptives among young people.
What are the primary activities of your project?
RAJS/BF carries out communication campaigns to mobilize the highest authorities in the state to achieve the goal of youth leadership development. Youth talent events and anti-AIDS youth days let young people bring their messages and their needs to authorities for effective consideration. Sub-regional networks of youth were also set-up to join the fight against HIV and promote the reproductive health of adolescents and young people. These networks include local affiliates of AfriYAN (African Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development) and CRJ/ACO (Regional Committee for Youth Networks against HIV and AIDS in Central and West Africa), youth organizations that work to mobilize resources and advocate for the National Council of Youth of Burkina Faso. After having created a favorable environment and resource availability, RAJS/BF will be working to develop communication activities by young people for young people. For this purpose, a network of more than 325 youth associations was put together; more than 2750 young peer educators in IEC/CCC/HIV/SRAJ life skills and community support of PLHIV (People Living with HIV) were trained; more than 325 teachers about HIV and gender equality were trained, more than 750 parents were trained in parent-child communication; more than 150 health workers were trained in youth outreach strategy. Community radio with youth listening centers were built in Bogandé (Eastern Burkina), 10 counseling centers for youth services with integrated health care were created, local activities for more than 500,000 were implemented included educational talks, video screenings followed by discussions, and forum theater. More than 15 health surveys and studies youth health and requirements were conducted. All these activities have been dedicated to increasing youth responsibility and the mobilization of the state and other partners on their side.
What is innovative about your initiative? How is it a new contribution to the field?
Until 2001, when RAJS/BF was created, Burkina Faso had no umbrella organizations that could present the problems as understood by the young people themselves. Before then, the government of Burkina Faso considered youth as a problem to solve, not a solution to the problems of Burkina Faso. The RAJS/BF, by working to develop youth leadership through advocacy activity, gave young people the chance to speak for themselves and act for themselves. Genuine youth awareness in Burkina Faso was created through the networking of youth organizations initiated by RAJS/BF. This strategy gave youth a setting for training and the consideration of their concerns. It also provided a credible interlocutor to deal with the problems of resource mismanagement. Now young people have their destiny in hand; several international conferences are to be dedicated to the awakening of youth. More and more, responsibilities are being entrusted to them. Before 2001, the United Nations system had tried all kinds of solutions to address the lack of concern for youth and the need to help solve their problems. Most of the efforts ended in failure, particularly at the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) in Cairo. Our project to strengthen youth leadership demonstrates that when young people are involved and given responsibilities, that genuinely addresses the results of the 1994 ICPD.
Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Burkina Faso's population is predominantly young. According to the 2006 RGPH (General Census of Population and Housing), those less than 20 years old make up 57% of the total population. Adolescents and young women aged 10-24 constitute 31% of the total population and are its poorest segment.
Young people generally face the same health problems as adults but with more acuity because of social, biological, psychological, environmental, and economic factors. Thus, the main health problems of youth are the following:
- Early and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions;
- Alcoholism, smoking and drug abuse;
- Harmful traditional practices like female circumcision that continue despite the many-sided efforts undertaken. According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2003, in the age bracket 15-49, almost three-fourths (75%) of the female population have been circumcised;
- Food and nutritional deficiencies affect children aged 2-10 as wells as high school students;
- Endemic and epidemic diseases such as dracunculiasis, onchocerciasis, the resurgence of tuberculosis due to AIDS;
- Forced and early marriages.
The SRH (sexual and reproductive health) of young people remains a concern. According to DHS-II, one quarter of adolescents aged 15-19 had a child or were having their first pregnancy at the time of the survey.
Early sexual activity and insufficient access to appropriate services, stemming from ignorance, lack of resources, and social inhibitions (fear, embarrassment, the absence of communication with parents, and even among young people), lead not only to the risks of STIs and AIDS already mentioned but also to increasingly more cases of early pregnancy and/or unwanted abortions. Still according to DHS III:
- 52.4% in the survey have already had at least one sexual encounter;
- 56.5% of sexually active young people have never used a contraceptive method;
- 41.6% of girls in the sample and 24% of those who go to youth centers have had at least one abortion.
A 1998 CRESAR study found that 31% of aborted births were induced, of which 50% were by adolescents. At the Yalgado National Hospital Center 15.6% of the maternal deaths are results of abortion. Those who have abortions are for the most part adolescents or young women ranging in age from 16-24 years old.
At the Sanou Sourou Regional Hospital Center, 37% of maternal deaths are due to illegal abortions and more than half are adolescents.
In 2009, at the CHUYO teaching hospital in the capital city Ouagadougou, 284 adolescents and youth aged 15-24 were treated for abortion complications, 150 said they had induced their abortions.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. The average age of first use of alcohol is 14 and urban youth are most affected.
Suicides, usually due to unwanted pregnancies and unhappy love matches, are another cause of youth mortality.
Young people are confronted with other equally important issues that affect their health and development. These include:
- Generational conflict,
- Family breakdown,
- Leaving school,
- Early and forced marriages.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Bagnomboé BAKIONO made an early commitment to solving the problems of youth. In 1994, while still a college student, he and a group of friends created the Association for the Promotion of African Youth and Development (APJAD). This association came at a time when talk about sex or sexuality was taboo, especially in a university environment. He had to swim against the tide to continually give youth information at a time when the voices of youth were not valued. Having gained confidence from that work, he went on to develop the framework for meetings and discussion with state authorities. He knocked on many doors carrying an initiative to create a strong youth organization that would speak on behalf of all youth. In 2000, he went to the FDA (Foundation for the Development of Africa) and worked to adopt an initiative for the establishment of a network of youth against AIDS as a gateway to reach all of the other development issues concerning youth. By 2001 this initiative had the approval of the development partners, and in that year the RAJS/BF was created to promote youth leadership