Triggerise launched a pilot in Malawi – Lilongwe centred on sexual reproductive health (SRH) with a focus on contraception, targeting girls aged 15-19. This pilot came after the success of a similar (but bigger) program previously launched in Kenya, called In Their Hands (ITH) project.
This pilot is showing promising results as within two/two and a half months at least and 1,152 young people have been reached and sensitised on family planning; Triggerise is excited! Let’s take a closer look!
What are the pilot goals and who is it targeting?
Goal: to increase adolescent uptake of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, with a focus on contraception;
Target: girls (aged 15-19) who live in Lilongwe and would otherwise not be able to afford access to professional SRH services and quality products.
How does it work?
-The project works with the participation of young mobilisers/Tiko Pros (entrepreneurs who help girls enrol in the program) from local communities, who try to engage this age group, ensuring that they have all the information they need about SRH and know where to access free services;
-The project uses mobile phones to enrol 15-19-year-old girls onto the Triggerise platform, ensuring that data is available in real-time.
The pilot period was established to run from December 2018 – March 2019. Should the pilot be successful, the project will be scaled up to other regions in Malawi and extended to reach those girls who do not have access to a mobile phone through the use of membership cards and will introduce high-tech solutions through Facebook and a mobile app.
Some numbers we are aiming to get
-Get 30 active Tiko Pros (providers of services and products) by the end of the pilot; currently, there are already 25;
-Reach 2,000 young people (by March 7th – 1,020 young people had been made aware of contraceptive methods;
-Up to the beginning of March 2019, 833 people were sent to the clinics (where they can get injectable and oral contraceptives, implants or IUDs)
So why Malawi?
Malawi was chosen as the country for the implementation of this project after Kenya because it presented a vast number of opportunities for Triggerise to work with other organisations like PSI Malawi Engender Health & Girl Effect, etc., and possible avenues for learning. Additionally, it was discovered through our preliminary research that adolescents could benefit from the project given that the teenage pregnancy rate between 2016 & 2017 stood at 29%.
The operations in Malawi are small but its implementation relied on learnings that came from operations in several and more established countries: Kenya, India (model markets), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi. The experience from some Kenyan service providers (such as Marie Stopes, PSI, IPPF, etc.) was very helpful.
For this project, we decided to get a specific partner – Tingathe Malawai – a non-profit organisation which works with young people and is focused on marketing, entrepreneurship and SRH. This decision was key to get a cohort of Tiko Pros.
A Malawian surprise
Malawi proved to be a project for surprises and firsts.
This is the first agnostic platform for Triggerise – which means that we went in without any service of demand partners. This allowed Triggerise to truly have a platform that benefits the girl, measuring attribution from demand generation to SRH services uptake without constraints of working with specific partners (as it can lead to a conflict of interest).
There are some barriers amongst this age group (15-19) to access family planning services because these services are expensive and sometimes the girls can’t get access to them at private facilities, where they actually offer good quality services. Additionally, some young people are not aware of the availability of these services.
Also, because the Malawian society is still conservative, it was not expected that the pilot would be as successful as it turned out to be.
However, the team has observed that these girls, who are at the prime of adolescence, are very keen and very open to learning about their sexuality and family planning. This allowed the program to be more easily accepted.
“A very unique thing we saw in Malawi is the way the community has accepted this project. Because we see a lot of young people visiting the clinics and a lot of young people taking contraceptive methods (medium and long term). This is something that doesn’t always happen in other countries where we work: for instance, in Cameroon and DRC was a little bit difficult for people to allow mobilisers to create awareness amongst adolescents in the community about taking contraceptive methods. In Malawi, people were actually much more open to getting to know more about contraception”, the expert said. For the team, this was a surprise. “It was a good surprise as it eliminated some barriers we were expecting”, Maria described.
The power of feedback
Also having a team on the ground is helpful: during the pilot, the team realised that the most preferred contraceptive method is oral contraceptives (the girls are still very scared of injecting or getting implants because they are visible).
This learning and also feedback from the girls was what helped the team to give them what they wanted in a more personalised way.
For instance, the girls have access to retailers, who are normally grocery stores, where they can get products. “Some feedback we got from the girls is that they also want to get access to other services like dressmakers and tailors”, Maria observed. This kind of feedback is what allows the Rafikis (the platform users) to get more personalised offers.
Should the pilot be successful, the project will be scaled up to other regions in Malawi and extended to reach those girls who do not have access to a mobile phone through the use of membership cards and will introduce high-tech solutions through Facebook and a mobile app.
So the team is now looking for additional donors so that this project can go on for many years. Why? Because Malawi is a promising market for Triggerise. “We have promising funding coming in April. We think that the girls really appreciate what we are trying to do. The numbers have been increasing steadily. This project has been received better than in any country that I know because in three months, in a very small pilot area, we have been able to reach 1020 girls (just talking about family planning). And about 850 have been to the health facilities for different family planning services”, Maria concluded.