Life Planning Ambassadors in Nigeria Use WhatsApp to Coach Youth Peers
By Margaret Bolaji and Oluwadamilola Opawale
Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth (LPAY) is a TCI Youth program in Nigeria that uses a WhatsApp group for its LPAY Ambassadors to communicate with youth about issues related to their sexual and reproductive health. LPAY, an initiative that began under the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative II that has been adapted by TCI, integrates a deliberate and innovative focus on adolescents and youth (15 – 24 years) to:
- Delay the age of first birth among young women
- Increase the intention to use modern contraception among young people aged 15 – 24 years
- Increase healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy among adolescents and youth
- Increase young people’s meaningful participation and access to reproductive health information and services including basic life skills
Currently, there are 161 LPAY ambassadors in four Nigerian States who ensure that the priorities of youth are reflected in state programs through relevant state structures (such as the State Technical Working Group on Adolescent Health and Development, Advocacy Working Groups, Social and Behavior Change Communication Committees and Quality Improvement Teams). The ambassadors use traditional and new media to increase their visibility and they engage with policymakers, technocrats, religious, schools and community leaders to address policy issues and social-cultural norms around LPAY. They also refer young people to youth-friendly reproductive health services in their locality.
The WhatsApp group offers regularly scheduled virtual coaching sessions and announces LPAY events as well as leadership and grant opportunities for youth. Through the WhatsApp platform, family planning experts and ambassadors mentor young people and equip them with skills and resources to lead healthy reproductive lives as well as to grow and thrive in their careers.