#FORMNIGANI IDEATHON CONTEST KICKS OFF, CHALLENGING YOUTH ON INNOVATION TOWARDS CONTRACEPTION ACCESS

The #formnigani University Ideathon contest officially kicked off (November 2019). The purpose is to further engage the youth on generating positive solutions towards a positive future for Kenya with contraception as central to the achievement of sustainable and equitable development in Kenya. The contest is tasking university students to bring their fresh, youthful ideas to help chart the right path for Kenya with teams drawn from Kenyatta University, Multimedia University, University of Nairobi, USIU, Strathmore University, African Digital Media Institute (ADMI) and Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS). The winner will be selected by a cross section of diverse experts across technical experts, academics, political leaders, creatives and journalists at a live event in January 2020.

This is off the back of the launch of Kenya in 2030: Young Voices on Future Scenarios and Contraception report by #formnigani. #formnigani is a creative platform for Kenyans to express themselves and have discussions about the critical issues surrounding contraception.

With the building blocks as identified by the Kenya in 2030 report, students through the #formnigani University Ideathon are tasked with development of creative and innovative solutions that seek to address the need for contraception across all demographics to achieve crucial health and development outcomes. The solutions will draw from the students’ academic know-how, cutting across various aspects of the economy including food security, health care, education, housing, security, environment, among other societal issues.

In Kenya, 74% of the population is under 35 years of age, according to the National Council for Population and Development. For this reason, the youth bear the biggest brunt of the impact from all policy decisions made which are currently a cause for concern based on a myriad of development indicators – high maternal deaths (6,300 women die annually during pregnancy and childbirth, with unplanned pregnancies being a major contributor), school dropouts from pregnancy rates (13,000 girls), and youth unemployment (80% of unemployed Kenyans are under 35 years of age) – all linked to contraception access.

For these reasons, young Kenyans view access to contraception information and methods as essential for incorporation in the country’s development agenda, at a national, regional, communal household and individual level to unlock a better tomorrow for Kenyans.

“Through the #formnigani Think Tanks, we got to capture what the concerns of young Kenyans with regards to the possible directions that the country could be headed, and against a backdrop of concerning trends there is optimism that things can be turned around. There is an opportunity for young Kenyans to engage and offer solutions on a way forward,” said Andy Awiti, strategy consultant and a participant of the #formnigani Think Tanks.

Drawing from insights and aspirations of young Kenyans and data from prevailing trends, the Kenya in 2030 report analyses a number of key drivers of contraception in Kenya, including socio-economic status, the health system, global influence and the market system to paint a picture of the state of Kenya in 2030 in four plausible scenarios – Upendeleo, Ukaidi, Utegemeo and the optimistic Uwakilishi.

In Uwakilishi, the healthcare, and by effect contraception access system, is cognisant of the impact of unmet needs on women and their livelihoods, as well as their partners’ giving them the ability to decide their futures and plan effectively resources available to them. The Kenya in 2030 report identifies steps towards the achievement of Uwakilishi, primarily the need for harmonisation of existing policy documents and frameworks to allow for a long-term approach to sexual reproductive health and contraception by eliminating ambiguity in roles by stakeholders at national and county levels.

Leading Kenyan futures expert Mrs. Katindi Sivi-Njonjo who formulated and facilitated the development of the Kenya in 2030 report said: “Based on our approach to population needs, right from the individual and household level, we stand at a crossroads but with a chance at a better future for our country in 10 years’ time, depending on how we look at the issue of contraception.”

The students are expected to make their submissions in the form of a two-minute video or presentation by 31st December 2019, with a grand prize of Ksh 100,000 up for grabs to the winning student teams, and further program development and potential fundraising to implement the top 5 solutions.

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Vincent Omondi

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