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Due to a lack of knowledge and a taboo on sexuality there are many teenage pregnancies in Ghana. In rural areas 23.4% of women give birth before the age of 18. Furthermore, Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services are not available for youth, or are of a poor quality, leading to a high rate of maternal and infant mortality.
Because of social taboos, youth, in particular, have limited access to SRH services. Healthcare services for adolescents are based in towns and usually out of the reach of people living in rural areas. These include the so-called ‘adolescent-friendly spaces’, places where young people have a safe and cosy atmosphere to discuss their problems and worries with other teenagers. Local government officials simply don’t allocate enough budget for SRH services for youth, and they don’t know the needs of their young citizens.
In Ghana youth (10 – 24 years) are key users of public services, but their feedback on service quality and delivery of their rights is seldom heard. They lack both information and adequate structures to influence the quality of services.
The Young Voice Project seeks to empower young men and women in rural Ghana to make their voice heard and to hold district assembly members and healthcare service providers accountable for the delivery of effective SRH services, including maternal healthcare.
Plan is training 24 youth groups to monitor the youth-friendliness and quality- and financial-accountability of SRH services in Ghana, as well as training officials in (gender) responsiveness to the needs of adolescents. At the moment the necessary monitoring is done through written questionnaires. Plan will digitise this monitoring system via an app as soon as possible.
Plan is also supporting local service centres in the creation of adolescent-friendly spaces. Computers are being made available to do research on SRH topics.
In total 30,340 girls and young women aged 10-24 will benefit from better quality SRH services. Furthermore, 604,608 people in six districts across three regions will benefit indirectly, through information on mass media and the increased responsiveness of healthcare providers to their maternal and other healthcare needs.
The youth groups work on a voluntary basis but income-generating activities are helping them to stay motivated. These activities are improving their chances on the labour market and stimulating them to continue their monitoring work.
The project started in 2014 and will run for a period of three years. It is being implemented in cooperation with local partners YARO and PROLINK, who are mobilising and training the local adolescents. Local partner ISODEC has developed a tool with which to do the monitoring and is responsible for research.
The Young Voice Project is being implemented in six districts in the Central, Eastern and Upper West regions (Mfantseman and Abura Asebu Kwamankese (AAK) in Central Region, Yilo Krobo and Upper Manya Krobo in the Eastern Region and Sissala West and Wa West of the Upper West region).