University Based Peer Education
Since 1988, a highlight of Pathfinder's work in Kenya has been a university-based integrated reproductive health and peer counseling project at three public universities: Egerton University, Kenyatta University, and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. All are national centers of excellence in tertiary education.
In traditional conservative societies, where sex is seldom discussed, young people—including students of university age—are particularly at risk from unintended pregnancy, substance abuse, gender-based violence and coercion, harmful cultural practices that adversely impact their health (such as nutritional taboos and female genital cutting), and sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
Since its outset, Pathfinder's university-based program addressed the social, reproductive health, and informational needs of young people through the recruitment and training of a network of university-based peer counselors, drawn from both students and faculty. Trained by Pathfinder, many of these counselors branched out to serve as mentors for secondary school children, particularly girls, while others have gone on to pursue further community development and leadership activities after graduation, including active participation in national politics as members of Kenya's Parliament.
Throughout the life of the program, Pathfinder provided financial and technical assistance to enhance university service delivery by strengthening and promoting clinic-based, peer counseling and community outreach interventions. Over time, university capacity to conduct adolescent reproductive health training, develop appropriate family life education and life skills curricula, and respond to students changing reproductive health needs has been greatly enhanced.
Pathfinder's positive experiences with youth-friendly services on campus have led to its participation as a technical resource to the government of Kenya in its adolescent reproductive health policy development. Pathfinder provided technical assistance for:
- The Adolescent Reproductive Health & Development Policy Plan of Action, Republic of Kenya, 2005-2015;
- The National Plan of Action for Implementing the Health Component of the National Youth Policy, 2006-2011;
- Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health: Ministry of Health Trainers Manual for Health Service Providers, 2007;
- National Guidelines for Provision of Youth Friendly Services (YFS) in Kenya, 2005; and
- The Adolescent Reproductive Health and Development Policy, Republic of Kenya, 2003.
With support from the Government of Kenya this project used an integrated model of AIDS, population and health to expand access to quality, sustainable HIV and AIDS and TB prevention, treatment, and support and family planning services.
The APHIAplus (AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance Plus) Nairobi-Coast program is a five-year flagship health services delivery program funded by USAID.
Dr. Tauseef Ahmed, Pakistan country director of Pathfinder International, a non-profit organisation working to improve adolescent and youth access to sexual and reproductive health services in more than 30 countries, says that early pregnancy is not uncommon among teenage brides. In fact, having a baby is a way of proving one’s fertility, and the values of adolescent pregnancy are “protected by women and girls themselves,” he told IPS.
On Bussi Island, health and environment are intrinsically linked. Pathfinder's Health of People and Environment project teaches communities about how best to keep their families and the environment they depend on healthy.