Data from a Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2010 (DHS 2010) informs us thatthe number of unmet family planning needs is still very high. Those met currently stand at 31%, while prevalence of modern contraception methods hardly exceeds 18%. At the time of the survey, 11% of girls aged 15 to 19 were found to be pregnant, or they had already given birth. On the other hand, there is a significant contrast between urban and rural areas, or between populations with different levels of education. For instance, the total fertility rate which stands 6.4 for the entire country, is at 4.8 in urban areas, against 6.6 in rural areas. On the other hand, adolescent fertility is only at 6% among girls with secondary and higher education, against 23% for uneducated girls.
In Burundi, there is no specific program on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) in educationcurriculum. The little that is taught through secondary school biology and civics classes is not sufficient as most students are already sexually active by that time. The consequences of this lack of education on SRH in Burundi are enormous.
SaCoDé’s contribution in SRH Education is executed in four-way approach: SRH Education via SMS, Youth Centres, SRH education in Schools, and Educative and Informative Videos.
1. SRH Education via SMS
We are the only organization in Burundi that uses mobile phone SMS to educate young people on sexual and reproductive health (SRH), a way that allows them to receive a variety of information on sexuality and reproduction, but also to ask questions in complete privacy and free of charge. Currently, 5000 youth across Burundi are enrolled in this program, and each of them is expected to share the content of the SMSs with at least 5 of their close friends.
The SMS approach is very innovative and far superior in results in comparison to other traditional mass sensitization approaches, as it
gives recipients an opportunity to participate and ask individual questions at any time. It is important to mention that, for this initiative, SaCoDé was honoured with the Innovative Project Prize from Segal Family Foundation in July 2013.
2. Youth Centres
To this date SaCoDé has opened three youth counselling centres where we mainly provide Sexual and Reproductive Health related services. These centres are an innovative and strategic way to meet the needs of young people by:
1. Offer increased access to high-quality services in Reproductive Health for adolescents and young people while working to minimize cultural and social barriers in this area.
2. Encourage increased demand for reproductive health services through the use of a range of information, education, and communication products to promote increased awareness in reproductive health among adolescents, young people, parents, and community leaders.
3. Promote the adoption of responsible behaviors through the increasing demand of reproductive health services among the youth.
3. SRH Education in Schools
According to the UNFPA report, between 2009 and 2012, the Burundian DPE (“Directions Provinciales de l’Education”, i.e. Provincial Directions of Education) reported 4760 pregnancies. This means that Burundian adolescents and young adults in schools have sexual relations.
There are several reasons responsible for this behavior including the exchange of sex for better grades (“sexually transmitted marks” or "STM" in school jargon), simple curiosity related to the innocence of young people, precarious financial situation of the parents (poverty), a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship likened to a married couple’s relationship, desire to punish the ex-boyfriend, or the desire to make money.
It is estimated that 85% of Burundian adolescents and young adults between 11 and 17 years have already had sexual experiences. Only 2%, however, are well-informed about reproduction, sexuality, HIV-AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases. This lack of sexual and reproductive education leads to several consequences such as unintended pregnancies, school dropout, abortion and its consequences, and sexually transmitted diseases (HIV).
SaCoDé’s contribution focuses precisely on changing behaviours in schools, breaking the silence and opening a debate through awareness campaigns and education on sexual and reproductive health. It is in this context that SaCoDé launched the SRH education in schools project, using the community outreach approach.
4. Educative and Informative Videos
SaCoDé produces and broadcasts informative and educative movies and documentaries on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the menstrual cycle, sexually transmitted infections, modern contraceptive methods, physical changes young people go through during puberty, financial literacy, gender and puberty, and gender based violence.
Our main target audience is the illiterate youth, but they are seen and enjoyed by the general public through various channels.