Through recent social accountability monitoring with support from Save the Children Sweden, SAfAIDS Zambia has gathered evidence that systematic poor public resource management is a major cause of limited access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the country. This is a result of limited knowledge and skills among the duty bearers in appreciating that delivery of SRH services is their obligation. In turn, this is aggravated by limited advocacy and social accountability knowledge and skills on the part of adolescents and young people, and their inability to hold duty bearers to account about the services they provide.
The SAfAIDS adolescent sexual reproductive health (ASRH) project aims to create an enabling environment by advocating policies and legislation to increase access to SRH services and promote the rights of children, adolescents and young people to realise their sexual reproductive health and rights, and to health more broadly.
Speaking to SAfAIDS recently, one of the programme-monitors, N’gandwe N’gandwe, based in Lusaka, Zambia, reported that they trained twenty young people (10 females and 10 males) in budget tracking and expenditure-analysis using the Public Service Accountability Monitoring (PSAM) model. This training has enabled the young people to realise their rights to SRH as a lived capability.
“As a result of this effort, five groups of four social accountability monitors were formed, who are now attached to health facilities in Chipata health zone. Each group has started familiarising themselves with the relevant documents in specific facilities that focus on performance monitoring of the service delivery of ASRH. The project has seen young people’s active participation in meaningful expenditure tracking and monitoring of the delivery of ASRH programmes in the Chizanga and Chipata communities,” he said.
N'gandwe said the programme has empowered young people so that they are able to hold authorities accountable in order to realise the change they want. He said that although they are unable to engage the Ministry of Health directly, they have reached out to one influential legislator, Jean Kapata, who has expressed her eagerness to work with the young people in her constituency and to be their mouthpiece.
He said that by meeting regularly and holding dialogues, the young people came up with the idea of youth-friendly corners at clinics. The monitors havealso helped them formulate viable strategic and action plans using the SAfAIDS template – a tool that helps them track budget allocations and to ask questions when the need arises.