TCI Helps Strengthen AYSRH Planning and Programming in San Jose City in the Philippines

May 26, 2022

Contributors: Raymond Mazo

Nathaniel Vergara (standing, right) at the TCI implementation meeting.

Nathaniel Vergara, City Population Officer of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, believed his city already had a strong adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) program prior to joining The Challenge Initiative (TCI). According to Vergara, he and some of his fellow city officials were skeptical that joining TCI could significantly help improve their program.

After he and his colleagues were introduced to TCI’s high-impact interventions, including the Leadership for Adolescent and Youth Friendly Cities (LAYFC) training approach, they quickly realized the weaknesses in their programming and began to work to improve it. He shared during the closing of the LAYFC training:

We realized that those projects and activities were not really that consolidated nor properly evaluated. I think we lacked a common goal and very important challenges were missed and not appreciated. During the training, we saw the real situation of the youth and adolescents in our locality. All leaders in the city are now aware of our real situation when it comes to AYSRH.”

As part of the training, they created a city leadership team (CLT) composed of department leaders and officers and headed by their local chief executive, Mayor Mario Salvador. The team also underwent a series of capacity strengthening programs, which further motivated them to improve their programs:

We came to understand our leadership capital, values, competencies and character.”

As a result, the CLT began work right away, Nathaniel said:

We crafted a new program design. It was a painstaking process. The plan underwent several revisions. Our approach to planning has become more comprehensive because we have ownership and co-ownership of the TCI AYSRH program. The community is likewise part of the program development, which will allow us to successfully implement it.”

Although the COVID-19 situation prevented them from implementing the plan, they are ready to put it into action once restrictions are eased. Nathaniel reported that the CLT is confident that the changes that they have incorporated into the plan based on their realities and with the help of the community will make an impact:

Now, we’re moving towards creating a new reality through a program design that is based on what’s actually happening on the ground. That, for us, is the important element that is present in our current program.”