By Gift Briton

Teenage pregnancies and new HIV infections among adolescent girls in Kenya are expected to reduce following the recent launch of more than $10 million new Development Impact Bond geared towards their elimination.

DIBs are results-based contracts in which private investors provide pre-financing for programmes and public sector agencies pay back investors their principal plus a return if, and only if, these programmes succeed in delivering the intended outcomes.

This bond will fund the delivery of high-quality, adolescent and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV testing and treatment, to adolescent girls aged 15-19.

It has been rolled out by the United Nations (UN) in Kenya, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Partnership Platform, in collaboration with the Government of Kenya, Triggerise, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Bridges Outcomes Partnerships.

In Kenya, one in six adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years has ever been pregnant with over 300,000 adolescent pregnancies recorded in health facilities annually. Moreover, over 7000 new HIV infections occurred among adolescents and young people aged 15- 24 in 2022 alone and only 54% of young people between 15-19 years old know about HIV prevention methods.

As such, the bond will focus on challenges such as the lack of information about sexual and reproductive health and rights and inadequate access to services tailored to young people across ten counties that experience a significant burden of HIV and adolescent pregnancy, including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, and Busia.

Speaking during the bond launch in Nairobi, Dr. Bashir Issak, Head Directorate of Family Health, Ministry of Health, noted that although a lot has been done to reduce adolescent pregnancy or new HIV infection, more still need to end teenage pregnancies, new HIV infections, as well as gender-based violence (GBV) by the year 2030.

“The Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Development Impact Bond (DIB) launched here today is a perfect example of innovative financing for SDGs where results/ impact are at the centre,” he said.

Dr. Issak added: “The results-based financing approach associated with the DIB is of utmost importance to us as the government given the great emphasis on impact/results as the basis for payment. You will agree with me that we have in the past had several interventions and investments in different spheres of development but more often than not, change, if any, is minimal.”

The Bridges Outcomes Partnerships will provide upfront funding to Triggerise, in a two-year pay-for-success programme that will support the delivery of high-quality, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health and HIV services to over 300,000 vulnerable adolescent girls, as well as the improvement of services in 150 public primary health facilities in the 10 high-burden counties.

The DIB will be implemented using Triggerise’s mobile-based digital platform that connects adolescents to nearby public and private facilities offering free services.

Through the digital platform, Triggerise will be able to track where every cent goes and assess impact every day with real-time reports and data-driven insights.

The government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health will provide the policy direction and overall stewardship of the programme, while the Council of Governors will ensure effective coordination of counties.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Stephen Jackson added: “For adolescents living in low-income settings, the barriers in access to accurate information and quality sexual and reproductive health services can be challenging to overcome. Many are facing financial obstacles, coupled with long distances to health facilities, and other socio-cultural factors that prevent them from this access. Even when services are available, concerns about privacy and service provider bias often discourage adolescents from seeking help. Such issues highlight the urgent need to support adolescents in relation to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”