Young 1ove is now partnering with the Government of Botswana, the Big Bang Philanthropy group, Grand Challenges Canada, and Grand Challenges Africa to incorporate lessons from both the Kenya and Botswana trials
by Jennifer Opare-Kumi
“Sugar daddy” relationships put Botswana’s young girls at risk
According to the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (IV), nearly 45% of forty-year-old men are infected with HIV and a Young 1ove survey revealed that 90% of young people are unaware of the risks of older partners. Young girls enter relationships with older partners thinking they are “safer” because they are older and “mature.” However, in reality these “sugar daddy”, “blesser” or “dadzie” relationships are risky.
Evidence from Kenya inspires “no sugar” classes in Botswana
The HIV prevention intervention (currently named “Zones”, previously “No Sugar”) addresses this information gap and ensures that students have access to proven life-saving information. The Young 1ove founding team was inspired after reading a paper by economist Pascaline Dupas on a 2003-2005 randomized trial in Kenya that sought to teach school girls the HIV risks associated with older partners. The impact of the study was impressive --- girls were 28% less likely to become pregnant, a proxy used for unprotected sex and HIV. The founding team seized the opportunity take this research off the shelf to deliver this proven life-saving information to the Batswana youth.
In 2015, after generating considerable buy-in through piloting the “no sugar” classes; the Young 1ove team partnered with the Ministry of Basic Education, the University of Botswana, Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Center of Excellence, and J-PAL to deliver its “no sugar” classes and to conduct the second randomized trial to confirm if the program worked in the Botswana context. The randomized trial included 42,000 students in Botswana.
Research and assessments show promise
The study generated a wealth of evidence that the organization has committed to actively incorporate and test to contextually improve the program. There was a reduction in the main measure of pregnancy similar to the Kenya trial. However, the results also indicated that further adaptation was required before scale. For example, the organization learned that the youth delivery model was more effective than teacher model and that the “sugar daddies” were younger than expected. Young 1ove is currently adapting the program using a rapid iteration and testing technique called Rapid Impact Assessments (RIA), which fuses best practices across product design, A/B testing and impact evaluation to determine the best adaptations for scale.
“No sugar” spurs partnerships, collaborations and scale
Young 1ove is now partnering with the Government of Botswana, the Big Bang Philanthropy group, Grand Challenges Canada, and Grand Challenges Africa to incorporate lessons from both the Kenya and Botswana trials. The goal remains the same: to encourage young people to avoid older partner relationships and to safely date each other. Young 1ove plans to determine the impact of the program on HIV/STIs directly in addition to pregnancy. If the results are found to be impactful, the optimized program will be scaled up in Botswana and beyond.
In a nutshell….
Young 1ove’s evidence-informed success is hinged on its diverse and multifaceted partnerships with funders, implementers, researchers and policy makers. As the Young 1ove story unfolds, the emerging themes are clear: (1) scour the academic literature (2) adapt the evidence for the context (3) test rigorously (4) scale with partners and (5) radiate lessons for the greatest good.
Young 1ove is a youth-driven grassroots non-governmental organisation founded by Moitshepi Matsheng and Noam Angrist . Young 1ove translates academic evidence into high-impact health and education programs delivered by the youth for the youth.
Jennifer Opare-Kumi was the former Research and Program Manager at Young 1ove. She is currently a DPhil student at the university of Oxford. Her research projects and interests are in the education and mental health of youth in the Global South.