By Jane Musasizi,
We have had an incredible and exciting journey on the IDEA Initiative by Nailab and Planned Parenthood Global (PPG) . The IDEA INITIATIVE by Planned Parenthood and partner Nailab (Nairobi Incubation Lab) seeks to incubate and accelerate start-ups and social impact ventures focused on solving sexual and reproductive health rights challenges. They are keen on igniting conversations on SRHR challenges in Africa so as to foster/motivate innovations in this space.
As Youthplus since December 2022, we have had an incredible journey on the programme helping us to sharpen our tech enabled SRHR initiative called SENGA 2.0. We have received technical support from Nailab on aspects of solutions building, understanding human centered design, developing a social lean canvas, prototyping and measuring impact. The main facilitator was Ms. Mary Mbuti, the Communications Manager at Nailab supported by Ms. Alice Michira, the Programme Manager at Nailab.
Thanks to Idea Initiative Africa, we have gained valuable insights on business modeling, learned how to define my value proposition, target market, revenue streams, cost structure, and more. This has helped us clarify SENGA 2.0 business model.
Senga 2.0 social lean canvas developed during the technical support process of the IDEA Initiative
Through the Idea Initiative Africa we have managed to build networks with SRHR practitioners in Africa and beyond fostering collaborations, knowledge sharing and partnerships.
Participant making a presentation at one of the physical IDEA Initiative sessions in Nairobi Kenya (Photo Credit: PPG/Nailab)
YOUTHPLUS team participated in over 15 IDEA Initiative sessions that have enabled us to redefine the purpose, strategies and go to market plans and readiness for SENGA 2.0.
We are grateful to the superb team at Nailab and PPG for giving us the opportunity to contribute to the SRHR agenda in Africa. Our belief s that the partnership that we have initiated on the IDEA initiative Africa will go a long way in helping adolescents in Uganda and beyond in accessing quality and timely SRHR services, products and information.
Here is more about our solution- SENGA 2.0
In traditional Ugandan society, communication on sexuality issues was a cardinal role of paternal aunties and uncles, called ‘senga or kojja’ respectively in central Uganda.
Girls and boys between the ages of 10 to 14 years and sometimes young adults were sent to their respective aunt or uncle for coaching or instruction on puberty and grooming, engaging in intimate relationships, and gender-specific roles about looking after a family.
Traditionally this role was given to the paternal aunties because most cultures in Uganda believe that it is a taboo for a mother or father to talk about sexual and reproductive health matters with their children.
In modern times, the role of the senga still exists, but the advice they give to teenagers and young adults now is often more focused on educational or career achievements, and the sengas play a mostly symbolic role at traditional marriage ceremonies.
Young people also may not have the time and opportunity they once would have to interact with their paternal aunts and uncles for special sexuality education discussions.
The father and mother have not been able to stand and fill the gap of providing the information to their children because they are holding onto the tradition of how it is not culturally right for the parent to talk sex and sexuality with their children.
Recent studies in East Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa show that young people and their parents find it challenging to talk about these issues. The parents often feel that they have inadequate knowledge about such sensitive issues and limited skills with which to address them.
The belief that senga ‘knows it all’ and has the ability to do that is prevalent amongst the communities.
The erosion of this once highly effective cultural system creates a gap for ensuring that young people receive accurate, caring information to help them navigate the transition to adulthood and the complexities of Sexual, Reproductive Health.
There has also been emergency of ‘modern’ ‘commercial sengas’ who do the coaching for a fee and they have been blamed for distorting the traditional role and information through providing inaccurate information and focusing more on teaching their mentees on how to acquire and improve sex skills to achieve maximum sexual pleasure and treating sexual dysfunction.
The ‘commercial sengas’ host sessions on the mainstream media (through paid airplay) and communities and they have gained popularity amongst adolescents and young adults. It is evident that adolescents and young adults still hold sengas with high value and are safer listening and learning from them about sexual and sexuality. It has also been proved that they want the sengas old and not young or their peers.
There is need to integrate scientific knowledge (including but not limited to STDs, sexual communication, contraception and safe abortion care) and cultural knowledge and practices (puberty and grooming, engaging in intimate relationships, and gender) to create better outcomes for youth in access and uptake of SRH in a confidential, secure and instant way.
Leveraging Tech and Innovation to deliver Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge and Information on SRHR
We are developing Senga 2.0 as a disruption and modification of the traditional senga approach as an intervention to improve sexual and reproductive health knowledge, attitudes and practices of adolescents and young adults through providing them with accurate, caring information to help them navigate the transition to adulthood and the complexities of SRH.
Senga 2.0 is a self-directed online learning and informative platform / application providing knowledge on sexual and reproductive health to adolescents and young adults in a progressive culturally sensitive way to address gaps in access to SRH services and information. Senga 2.0 will be a safe and confidential space to learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
We are mapping out a network of five (5) sengas (from both traditional and modern) and will train and provide them with appropriate sexual health information, sexual rights communication, contraception and safe abortion care.
SENGA 2.0 will work with the network of Sengas to develop information and learning outcomes on SRH with the local and cultural context in mind.
The information and knowledge will be correlated into five learning and information outcomes. It will be developed into study content, podcasts, role plays and infographics. The facilitation will be spearheaded by the Sengas with the back-up support of qualified health workers, legal personel, counsellors and educators.
The learning will be delivered in English but will also have an option for Luganda a local and popular dialect in Uganda. In the subsequent years other language options will be added to the platform.
The key topics with learning outcomes will include
- Puberty and grooming for adolescents and Young adults
- Understanding and caring for your body
- Understanding and caring for your reproductive body
- Health and Wellness
- Engaging in safe and fulfilling intimate relationships
- Sex orientation
- Sexual pleasure and sexual dysfunction
- Safe sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs)
- Teenage and unwanted pregnancies
- Contraception and Birth Control
- Emergency contraception
- Safe Abortion and abortion care
- Gender Roles and Relations- Improving gender relations between men and women
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Consent and Assault
- Men as agents of change in sexual health and wellness
Senga 2.0 will have a referral system that enables users access services and products required to address a key sexual or reproductive health problem. Senga 2.0 will map out and establish a network of product and service providers where users can get services and products on sexual and reproductive health.
This work is enabled by the technical and financial support from
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