Empowerment of Youth club: Experience, Opportunities & Challenges. The case of ‘Sele Tselote Egi’ Youth Reproductive Health/HIV/AIDS club in Oromia and ‘Kal’ RH/HIV/AIDS club in Addis Ababa Region-Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


From perspective of the youth club members, this study explores the empowerment experiences of Sele Tselote Egi (SAL) Youth Reproductive Health /HIV/AIDS club in the rural Oromia region of Ethiopia, and Kal RH/HIV/AIDS (KAL) club in the city of Addis Ababa. Thirty-two (32) participants (18 male and 14 female) who ranged in age from 14-25 years, contributed to the study. These participants represented leaders and members of the two clubs. Data for the two case studies was obtained by running in-depth discussion sessions with club members, as well as observation of the activities of the clubs, a review of club documents and the literature on RH/HIV/AIDS clubs in Ethiopia. This study addresses the following gaps in the literature: 1) it is the first study of a rural RH/HIV/AIDS Youth Club; 2) it has revealed how club approach /model contributed and/or empowered, opportunities that exist and challenges encountered in the process; and 3) it also explored why it is relevant from the perspective of club members /youth perspectives. The studies have revealed lack of strategies, plans and resources by the clubs but didn’t ask why it happened and how it could be addressed, which underlined capacity limitations, clear structure, rules and regulations among clubs to attract and retain members as efficiently as possible. One of the themes identified by the Youth Net assessment was the need for youth empowerment/ voice and so on but it didn’t say anything about how this could be addressed. The main findings include the following. Both youth RH/HIV/AIDS clubs are an important avenue for disseminating Reproductive Health/HIV/AIDS information to their members and peers. The major activities in which they are involved include conducting intensive peer-topeer education sessions and mass edutainment activities such as theatre, drama, music songs, question and answer competitions, and other complementary services such as referral for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Reproductive Health/Family Planning (RH/FP) and Voluntary 8 Counseling and Testing (VCT). Although there are some differences between the urban and rural clubs, in general, both clubs also mobilize club members for VCT, encourage girls for virginity tests, distribute condom and birth control pills, conduct non-formal education, and engage in community development activities like planting apple trees and dairy husbandry for generating income generation to support the club’s initiatives. It is the perception of the youth that these activities have resulted in an increase in girls’ participation in club activities. In addition, these activities are related to a reduction in Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) such as female genital mutilation, early marriage, and so on. The club members also believe that club activities have improved coverage of RH/FP services and increased the demand for VCT. Both urban and rural clubs have set up an organizational structure which constitutes of the General Assembly and the Management Body to provide direction and responsibility for carrying out day-to-day activities. The study found, however, that from an organizational perspective, the empowerment of the club and its members is inhibited by some limitations in management practices of the clubs due to scarce resources. The major problems/challenges or disempowering aspects that youth in the two clubs face include: 1) fluctuating participation of club members in activities, 2) lack of support from sponsor organizations, and 3) misconceptions about the role and work of RH/HIV/AIDS clubs by parents, church leaders, and the community. Capacity building measures such as training and material support are required to enable the work of the club and further empower youth club members. Among others, training in managerial and leadership skills, project coordination, strategic plan development, counseling, advocacy, conflict management, proposal writing, financial administration, use of reporting systems and communication skills are needed. Youth club members also believe that properly enforcing a club’s Constitution, setting up project implementation mechanisms along with working guidelines, and promoting networking among RH/HIV/AIDS clubs within and across rural 9 regions and urban cities in Ethiopia would make a difference in the level of empowerment and help youth clubs achieve their missions. Although limited in scope to the perceptions of youth from one rural and one urban area in Ethiopia, the findings suggest that the implementation of existing policies and commitments made by the government and/or international agencies in support of RH/HIV/AIDS initiatives can be used to strengthen and support youth RH/HIV/AIDS club activities



Social Work