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Faya Digital


Challenge: In Kenya, improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) remains a high priority. Teen pregnancy and motherhood rates in Kenya stand at 18% meaning about one in every five adolescent girls has either had a live birth, or is pregnant with her first child ¹. At the same time, 49% of unmarried girls from 15-19 have unmet needs for family planning, which means that they would use modern contraception if they had access to it, but they don’t ². 13,000 girls drop out of school annually due to early and unintended pregnancy ³ and almost 30% of all new HIV infections are among adolescents and youth ⁴.

How might we use technology to make sex education engaging and accessible?

After multiple rounds of co-designing and testing with users, using a youth-driven design approach, our team designed and developed a WhatsApp chatbot called AskDoki. AskDoki, means “Ask a Doctor” in Kiswahili. AskDoki, is a natural language processing (NLP) ⁵AI-powered counselor for young people seeking advice and services to protect their health. Doki, our doctor chatbot persona, delivers comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education for adolescents based on eight topics ranging from healthy relationships, gender, STI and HIV/AIDS, to future livelihoods in Kiswahili and English. She also connects them with nearby youth-friendly service providers for free, and answers questions that are popular among young people. Our team chose WhatsApp since it is one of the most used social media platforms, and 96% of Internet users 16-64 reported using WhatsApp the previous month¹¹.

During the rough prototyping phase, we learned that mobile users in Kenya have access to “free WhatsApp”, which means users can access WhatsApp text and audio for free without depleting any of their purchased data bundles. However, downloading files like highly desired illustrations and videos is not part of the free WhatsApp offer, and we anticipate that many young people would not have mobile data bundles to view the photos, illustrations, and videos. Therefore, as we were creating the content, we ensured the most critical information was conveyed in the free WhatsApp text messages, whilst also including more visually engaging materials.

Further reading on AskDoki.

😒 Snigdha Pamula, 2024 ©