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Tesfayesh Getachew is the coordinator of the Youth Friendly Service (YFS) at the Chitu Health Center in Gedeo Zone for one of the catchment kebeles. She has been participating in the YFS for the past two years saying that she and other participants are benefitting a lot. “We freely discuss on issues of sexual and reproductive health, HIV, sexually transmitted infectins and gender-based violence when we meet on Thursdays and Saturdays every week,” says Tesfanesh adding that they also learn from each other to solve problems related to these issues.  

The YFS is being supported by UNFPA as part of the five-year programme titled “Integrated Programme on Family planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health among Adolescents and Youth” funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The programme which is complementing efforts at strengthening the capacity of adolescents and young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially on family planning, is being implemented in selected districts in West Guji Zone in Oromia Region and Gedeo Zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

Tesfanesh indicates that the participants of the YFS go out on outreach to give teachings in schools and community gatherings. This has in recent times included giving teaching to communities on taking precautions against COVID-19. “When we hear of issues of GBV and unintended pregnancy we help the young girls to come and seek service at the health centre,” she says. Each participant of the YFS is expected to bring in 10 new participants which is helping boost the membership of the YFS.

The programme is striving to empower adolescents and youth by making choices and services available as well as developing the capacity of healthcare providers and institutions to ensure informed choices. It is also expected to bolster efforts at strengthening key social behaviour change communication platforms to enhance service seeking behaviours.

Tesfanesh indicates that the female dignity kits provided at the YFS as part of the KOICA supported programme is helping young girls not to miss class during their menstrual time. “This is behind us now and we are not embarrassed anymore,” remarks Tesfanesh.