Nigeria Toolkit: AYSRH Advocacy
Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth Ambassadors
What is it?
The Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth (LPAY) Ambassador approach is an intervention that encourages meaningful youth engagement, participation and inclusivity by identifying youth ambassadors between the ages of 15 to 35 years old, married and unmarried, in and out of school, and embeds them into governance and community structures at the State and local government area (LGA) levels. This ensures that youth’s reproductive Health (RH) needs are prioritized and implemented within the broader RH program.
The goal is to increase youth’s meaningful participation, empower them to advocate for their reproductive health needs and act as agents of change within their community by increasing access to reproductive health information and services.
Why it is important?
Youth ages 15 to 24 years old make up approximately 20% of Nigeria’s population and approximately 12% are unemployed. As a result, it is imperative that youth are not only engaged so that their health and development needs are well-known at all levels of government but also their capacities are strengthened so that they can become the new generation of leaders, including family planning leaders, in the country.
With ongoing coaching support provided by TCI, LPAY ambassadors are able to elevate youth sexual and reproductive health and development issues at the community, State and national levels. advocating for their own health and wellbeing and for that of others. They work closely with TCI State teams, which allows them to not only grow their networks but position them as resource for the state and key actors in achieving AYRH programs. To achieve this, LPAY ambassadors are embedded into existing state and local structures illustrated below.
State Level LPAY Ambassador Placements
LGA Level LPAY Ambassador Placements
What are the steps for implementing this approach?
TCI engages in extensive and intensive consultation with youth at all stages of TCI programming to the extent that it is mutually beneficial to both the youth and TCI. This means that youth are involved in the Pre-Expression of Interest (EOI), EOI, program design and implementation stages. Partnering with the youth in the monitoring, evaluation and research is also essential to ensure that near to real-time data is used to inform programmatic decisions.
TCI supports states to engage youths as LPAY Ambassadors. The LPAY Ambassadors are jointly selected by TCI and the states; officially decorated at a state event. The LPAY Ambassadors are youth – male and female – between the ages of 15 to 35 years old that reside in any of the TCI AYRH-selected intervention states. They speak to the priorities of youth in the state that they represent. Approximately 20 LPAY Ambassadors are selected per state. This helps to increase the pool of coaches in TCI geographies given that the as LPAY Ambassadors supports the embedded TCI State Teams.
TCI supports states to engage LPAY Ambassadors residing in their states to speak boldly on the priorities of youth by:
Step 1: Identifying and selecting potential LPAY ambassadors
As TCI’s primary contact for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) issues, the Adolescent Health and Development Officer (AHDO) at the State Ministry of Health/Primary Health Care Development Agency/Board sends out a call for applications through youth organizations and networks for youth to apply to become LPAY ambassadors. The TCI’s net-map exercise was also instrumental in identifying youth organizations and networks.
The application requires submission of two short essays, applicant’s recommendation letter and resume as specified in the terms of reference. Successful candidates are selected based on the following criteria:
- Be between the ages of 15 to 35 years old.
- Can be in or out of school but should be affiliated with a civil society organization as a volunteer, intern or part of the youth corps
- Must be Nigerian and reside in the community for which s/he will serve
- Must be comfortable voicing their perspective and the perspective of other youth openly in the community as well as government fora
- Must be a member of at least one youth network in his/her community
- Must be passionate about reproductive health issues and helpful if s/he has been involved in a group promoting reproductive health in the past or presently
- Have a good understanding of the local language to converse with the community and basic English communication skills
- Be willing to give at least 3-4 hours a month, depending on what the State requires, for promoting adolescent health
Step 2: Orienting LPAY ambassadors
Once the candidates are selected and informed of their selection, the AHDO with support from TCI invites them to an orientation meeting to clarify their roles and responsibilities and introduce them to existing state structures.
They are expected to participate in community outreaches, facilitate intergenerational dialogues within the community and generally represent the interests and needs of youth at local, state and national levels. The LPAY Ambassadors use traditional and new media to increase their visibility and engage with policymakers, technocrats, religious, schools and community leaders to address policy issues and socio-cultural norms around RH issues. They also refer youth to youth-friendly services in their locality. In order to do these activities, they are provided with training opportunities and continuous coaching.
Step 3: Providing continuous coaching to empower LPAY ambassadors to promote youth reproductive health
During the orientation (Step 2) and on other platforms, TCI introduces the LPAY ambassadors to TCI University so that they can increase their knowledge about family planning and adolescent and youth reproductive health and earn certificates for their increased knowledge about the proven interventions.
TCI also facilitates an LPAY Ambassadors WhatsApp Group, which allows TCI and the AHDO to remain in constant contact with the youth ambassadors and fosters peer-to-peer exchange as well. The WhatsApp group offers regularly scheduled virtual coaching sessions and announces LPAY events as well as leadership and grant opportunities for youth. For example, in advance of the National Family Planning Conference, TCI encouraged LPAY ambassadors to write abstracts and provided review and feedback of them as part of its coaching support. In addition, TCI sponsored a few LPAY ambassadors’ attendance at the conference once their abstracts were accepted.
Through the WhatsApp platform, family planning experts and even the ambassadors themselves mentor the LPAY ambassadors and equip them with skills and resources to lead healthy reproductive lives as well as to grow and thrive in their careers. Topics covered during the weekly hour-long virtual learning sessions (every Thursday at 4pm-5pm) have included: Family Planning Methods, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Leadership, SMART Advocacy, Media Advocacy, Public Speaking, Components of an Effective Meeting, Financial Planning, Public Budgets and Processes, Art of Storytelling, Reflective Writing and Social Media, to name a few. Presenters prepare no more than 10 slides and submit their presentations at least two days before their session. Session facilitator/presenter uploads each slide as presenters record their voice notes explaining the content of the slide. Each presentation lasts for one hour – 30-minutes for presentation and 30-minutes for Q&A.
The AHDO is a member of the WhatsApp Group and the goal is to transition the facilitation of the Group over to them. TCI started the Group to demonstrate to the AHDO its usefulness and how facilitators/presenters can be engaged to provide the hour-long learning sessions.
In addition to these coaching opportunities, TCI invites LPAY ambassadors to trainings being organized in the State, as appropriate. For example, LPAY ambassadors are often invited to take part in social mobilization trainings.
Tips for Adaptation
- Clearly define the terms of reference related to how long the LPAY ambassador will serve in his/her role. Currently, the TOR is for one year with the opportunity to express interest to continue with the State.
- Clarify age limits as part of TOR and process for aging out.
- Not all youth influencers are members of CSOs and youth networks.
- As the drivers of the approach, States should adapt the selection criteria for their realities.
- In order to ensure the sustainability of the WhatsApp Group, the AHDO should be introduced to this aspect of the intervention early in the process of engagement, so that they understand how it will work and start take part in the planning for presenters from the beginning.
What does being a LPAY Ambassador mean to youth...
“Being an LPAY ambassador helped me to be bold and vocal”
“Helped me to take initiative”
“Helped me in the work that I do [working for an NGO]”
“Helped me to be an influencer in my community”
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LPAY Ambassadors are only male youth aged 12-20.CorrectIncorrect
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On the state level, LPAY Ambassadors can be included in the:CorrectIncorrect
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After LPAY Ambassadors are selected by the states and TCI, they are officially celebrated at a state event.CorrectIncorrect
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