The current economic situation in the country has affected the general populace across all facets of life and young rural girls have not been spared either.
The ever spiralling prices of basic commodities has also seen young rural girls face a number of challenges in as far as Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services are concerned with most of them being forced to look for alternatives which later expose them to health hazards.
A visit to Chavakadzi communal area, located in Shamva, Mashonaland Central, revealed that the majority of young people continue to face challenges in accessing tailored and affirming SRH services which include access to comprehensive contraception, HIV testing services, Cancer screening and any other SRH related services.
Access and availability of these services make life as a young person in Chavakadzi difficult as there aren’t readily available exposing young girls to high rates of early and unplanned pregnancies among adolescence girls, sexually transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV infections.
This environment is fertile for new HIV and STI cases among adolescent boys and girls who are a key population in HIV and AIDS programming targeted towards ending new HIV infections.
HOPE for Adolescents and Youth conducted a Community Sensitization Meeting in Chavakadzai where it launched a project aimed at Improving access to affirming and tailored SRH, the Youth Access Initiative, supported by HIVOs.
Through the project, the organization seeks to increase access and uptake of integrated SRH services by young people to reduce the gap which exist within the district.
An interview with some of the adolescent girls who attended the event, they showed ignorance over some of the contraceptive methods that women can fall back to within the district.
“Muno muChevakadzi munowanikwa macondom anenge asiiwa nema Health workers asi haasi kutikwanira. Mapiritsi ariko asi anotengeswa $5ZWL kari one ka packet, ndozvimwe zviri kunetsa izvozvo. Depo hariwanikwe, MaJadelle haawanikwe panongowanikwa mapiritsi ega. And Anowanikwa here and there kwete pese pese….”
In addition, there is a challenge in accessing Menstrual Health Management products such as sanitary pads which are being charged for exorbitant prices ($19 ZWL) a price which the majority of girls cannot afford.
However, representatives from the hosting organisations acknowledged that providing services on its own is not enough hence they have to work with stakeholders who will provide relevant information on SRH services and products in order to contribute to its objective of Increasing the knowledge of young people on SRH services and Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
In an interview with HOPE for Adolescence and Youth managing director Michelle Ndlovu who noted that there was indeed a challenge in the district that needed stakeholders to work together to improve the situation.
“There is a serious challenge in the ward which requires partners to work together and increase availability of SRH services to the youths. We cannot speak of harnessing the demographic dividend if we fail to invest in the health or Adolescents who are in hard to reach locations,” she said.
Different activities that included drama, music, choir and sporting activities were also done to on the day to mobilize and encourage participation and buy in of the project by the community.