According to the 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), 6.3% of people in Kenya ages 15-49 are HIV-positive. Among adolescents specifically, girls are affected 2:1 compared to their male peers.i
To effectively address the HIV epidemic among young adults it’s imperative to foster open lines of communication between adolescents and positive role models. However, a baseline survey conducted by FHOK found that many adolescents in Kenya have limited communication with their parents/caregivers, particularly surrounding sensitive issues such as sex and reproductive health. The majority of adolescents reported that they would like to get information about sex and sexuality from their parents, but that this was not happening. Parents said that they themselves did not have reliable information and/or that they did not know how to talk to their children about these issues. These findings reinforced our belief that to effectively reach adolescents, the project would need to take a holistic, family-centred approach.
We also realised that lack of access to resources for adolescents outside of the home presents another barrier to effective prevention and care strategies. Currently, only 10% of facilities in Kenya with an HIV testing system offer youth-friendly HIV testing services. i
Lastly, and very importantly, we recognised that some of the structural determinants that drive HIV, especially for women and girls, needed a financial/economic solution – an insight that drove a unique microfinance component of the project.
“A few years before we received this grant, IPPF had worked with the United Nations Population Fund on issues around microfinance. And we realised that for some of the structural determinants that drive HIV, especially for women and girls, there needed to be a financial/economic solution. We conducted a desk review, and this desk review found that while a lot of organisations and emphasis was being placed on addressing some of these structural determinants, very few organisations had the ability or neck to give it to young women and girls. So, while microfinance was supporting issues around HIV and the agenda for gender, it really focused on the matriarchs of society. It didn’t really focus the opportunity to invest in the lives of young women and girls. So we saw this as an opportunity to do two things:
One, to see, could we take a chance on investing microfinance and that energy into young women and girls, notably under 19, and secondly for people living with HIV? Because microfinance institutions globally were hesitant to do it because they thought their loans wouldn’t be paid back, they thought the repayment schedules wouldn’t be met. So it wasn’t worth the risk. So in many ways this project was trying to break that mould to say can we learn some lessons about actually applying what we say we know to microfinance for young women and girls.
The second one was to say from our side, because we’re not a microfinance institution, how do we encourage all those innovative partnerships? So, innovation around somebody doing microfinance and somebody providing key sexual reproductive health services? So that was the genesis of the project in some way.”
- Kevin Osborne, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)