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Filling the information gap for young people in West Africa

Ado Avance Ensemble fills the SRHR information gap among adolescents and young people in West Africa, by reaching them online; through well-known influencers and chatbots.

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Tags: AAE, DKT, influencer, Lydia Conseil, social marketing

Young people require access to sexual and reproductive health information and services to navigate the journey into adulthood successfully. Unfortunately, this essential support is lacking in West Africa, leaving them across the region vulnerable to increased risks such as early marriage, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, maternal mortality, and the prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Ado Avance Ensemble addresses this crucial need by implementing strategies to fill the information gap, specifically reaching adolescents and young people with online resources about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

We spoke with consortium partner DKT International’s Ned Winn-Dix, Programme Development Manager in Francophone West and Central Africa, on how they do this:

“Most adolescents go online if they want information about sexuality, as most don’t feel comfortable discussing SRHR issues, even with a close confidant; for fear of getting judged. And so, digital platforms are a key source of information for SRHR topics that remain taboo. But here is the problem; they don’t view the information they find online as reliable.”


Lydia Conseil DKT Ado Avance Ensemble

Regional call center LydiaConseil

DKT’s LydiaConseil regional call center is staffed by midwives who are highly visible online. As midwives are trusted professionals in the region, having them staff the call center helps to close this trust gap for online information. In the first programme year, DKT’s midwife teleconsultant service helped 2,000 adolescents and 15,000 young people with their questions on sexual and reproductive health, using mostly chat or audio messages. In the next two years of the programme, DKT will start referring clients to clinics of the consortium partners in the five focus countries of Ado Avance Ensemble, ensuring that adolescent boys and girls who may need to see a doctor or midwife for a service know they’ll get a high-quality, non-judgmental experience.

DKT - Social Media Influencer Cameroon - AAE Programme


Another example of an online strategy was the collaboration with influencers. DKT International worked with six healthcare professionals who are also influencers and content creators in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Burkina Faso. DKT International found that partnering with healthcare professionals increased the target audience’s confidence in the reliability of the content shared – mainly video, given its proven effectiveness as a means of communication. An example is Dr. Passionate in Cameroon, a doctor who helps women to better understand their intimate health.

These examples of DKT’s regional office in Francophone West and Central Africa, in combination with other online interventions, have enabled Ado Avance Ensemble to contribute significantly to its online reach in the programme’s first year: more than one million teenagers and young people (aged 18-24) reached with information and advice via the internet, either through chatbots integrated into various websites, or through midwife teleconsultants able to answer questions on a wide range of A-SRHR topics in a non-judgmental way.

Training midwifes to provide adolescent-friendly services

Adolescents often choose the private sector to access their services. To ensure that private providers are ready to receive them without judgement, Rutgers and DKT International have co-created a training module for midwives on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health. The training module is delivered by DKT’s master midwife trainers and includes two sessions: one on attitudes from medical staff towards young people accessing services and the other on adolescents’ and young people’s ability to choose for themselves.

Ned: “This training was highly needed. Studies show that adolescents and youth are often reluctant to access contraception at health facilities where they may encounter a lack of privacy, biased providers and limited contraceptive options. Another issue that we see is that medical staff, including midwives, are not necessarily aware of the laws governing access to SRH services for adolescents and young people in their countries.”

Ado Avance Ensemble will increase knowledge of existing legislation on adolescents’ and young people’s access to SRH in the five programme countries, by producing informative posters (to be displayed in clinics) during year two of the programme. Ned:

“Knowledge and clarity about the law is crucial. It will make medical staff more comfortable and confident when it comes to explaining the family planning options that young people have in their countries.”

About DKT

DKT is a Regional Social Marketing organisation serving across 14 countries, bringing low-cost high-quality contraceptives to women and men so they can take charge of their sexual and reproductive health (SRH). DKT specialises in family planning and safe abortion products, distribution, training provision and behaviour change marketing campaigns.

For more information about DKT in West and Central Africa, click here.



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