FutureLife-Now! is a new regional programme that’s builds on the successful Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) framework developed in the early 2000’s and that, in 2018, reached over 27 million of the region’s learners with support services. This innovative approach has strengthened the education sector’s ability to respond to the growing numbers of vulnerable children and youth in the region, by providing child and youth-friendly services in support of health, gender, migration, food security, violence and other challenges. By bringing together two critical elements for human development – education and health­ – and by building upon the systems’ strengthening and policy development that has taken place through CSTL, FutureLife-Now! aims to promote greater self-confidence and hope for the present and future among young people in the SADC region. A combination of activities that includes strengthened HIV education policies, enhanced Comprehensive Sexuality Education, access to youth-friendly HIV/SRHR services facilitated through schools, peer-support groups on health and other life challenges, and targeted programming for boys will contribute to the programme’s overall objective of reducing new HIV infections and increasing adherence to ART amongst children and youth in the SADC region.

Empowering young people to exercise their rights and responsibilities is critical for effecting behaviour change. To this end, the SADC Children and Youth Participation Framework will be used as the vehicle through which young people will develop agency to exercise their civic and political rights and responsibilities, alongside their economic responsibilities and rights, enabling them to make informed, responsible choices and decisions around FutureLife-Now! priority issues.

FutureLife-Now! is designed to contribute directly to the following HIV-related areas of intervention:

  • Prevention – increasing competencies amongst youth in HIV & AIDS, SRHR and ART adherence, making youth-friendly HIV&AIDS and SRHR services and support more accessible and advancing gender equality by addressing the specific needs of vulnerable boys and young men
  • Viral suppression – providing ART adherence education and support for adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV)
  • Policies – strengthening education sector HIV-related policies and their adoption into national and regional mandates and strategies

Because of their importance in fighting the HIV pandemic, gender equality and governance are addressed as transversal themes through FutureLife-Now! In addition, a third cross-cutting issue, namely climate change, has been integrated into the programme’s activities. Measures have been included in the project to mitigate against the negative effects of severe weather events such as drought, flooding and hurricanes that impact negatively on educational provision, making it difficult for children to attend school or destroying schools altogether.

The overall goal of FutureLife-Now! is:

New HIV infections are reduced and adherence to ART increased amongst youth in the SADC Region by building on gains made through Care and Support for Teaching and Learning.

The intervention occurs at multiple levels with multiple expected outcomes.

At the regional level, the intervention focuses on strengthening the education sector’s capacity to support and promote the health and well-being of children and youth, particularly in regards to HIV&AIDS, SRHR and ART adherence, and with the following outcomes:

  • SADC education sector responses related to HIV & AIDS, SRHR and ART adherence strengthened using the CSTL framework
  • Adolescent learners in the SADC Region have increased competencies to protect themselves against HIV&AIDS and related SRH vulnerabilities

At the Member State level, the CSTL platform will be used to implement new approaches in outreach areas in four selected Member States (for region-wide application), with the following outcomes:

  • Increased access by adolescent learners in the outreach region to youth-friendly HIV, SRHR and ART adherence support and services
  • Boys and young men in the outreach area complete their schooling, engage in positive behaviours and make responsible SRH choices
  • Physical environments improved and challenges of climate change addressed through youth-driven local action

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as the core funding partner of FutureLife-Now!, has committed a 50% funding contribution. MIET AFRICA has secured counterpart funding for a further 25% of the required funding from a variety of partners. The SADC Secretariat and its Member States (and specifically in the first phase, the four pilot Member States) are expected to contribute the remaining 25% contribution, through in-kind contributions.

For more information on FutureLife-Now! contact Bashni Naicker on 031-313300 or email bashni@miet.co.za.

Visit the SADC CSTL website here http://www.cstlsadc.com/