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A “Plus” Model for Safe Transitions to Adulthood: Impacts of an Integrated Intervention Layered onto A National Social Protection Program on Sexual Behavior and Health Seeking among Tanzania's Youth

Abstract

Poverty is a structural driver of risky sexual behaviors. While cash transfers can mitigate some of this risk, complementary interventions have been posited as a way to further reduce multidimensional vulnerability. We examine the impacts of a multicomponent intervention targeted to Tanzanian adolescents on their sexual behaviors and reproductive health. The intervention comprised livelihood and life skills training, mentoring, and health facilities’ strengthening. Data come from a cluster randomized controlled trial, where one study arm received the intervention and the other was randomized to control, but both arms participated in a government cash transfer program. Among 1,933 adolescents interviewed over three rounds, we found increases in contraceptive and HIV knowledge. The program also increased health seeking and HIV testing among boys, but slightly reduced age at sexual debut among girls. There were no impacts on contraceptive use, number of sexual partners, or pregnancy. Findings support the value of an adolescent intervention, and the fact that it was delivered within a social protection platform suggests a potential for scalability. Additional efforts are required to delay sexual debut and reduce the number of sexual partners and pregnancy, possibly through addressing supply-side barriers and social norms, or through additional linkages to economic opportunities.

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Publication date: 2022

Author(s): Jennifer Waidler

Journal: Studies in Family Planning

Language: English

Related Innocenti Project(s):

Cash Plus