Evaluation of the Cash Plus Project’s Contribution to Reducing Vulnerability amongst Adolescent Girls & Young Women to HIV in Turkana County
The Cash Plus programme aimed to influence change in several factors that increase the vulnerability of AGYW to HIV in Turkana County. The project design promoted combination prevention programming. Biomedical, behavioural and structural interventions targeting AGYW were implemented over approximately three years, although in intermittent fashion. Over the project period, there have been considerable challenges that limited the amount of movement and momentum towards project objectives. These included delays in implementation, unsuccessful partnerships and more lately, a disruption of project implementation occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However despite these limitations, the project showed fluidity and adaptivity. Activities were adjusted to changing circumstances on the ground, both in terms of an increased understanding of the project environment, and in terms of the learning obtained from the implementation experiences.
Overall, compared to the project in Kilifi County, the cash plus project in Turkana County achieved comparatively better results under several objectives, and demonstrated desired change through several pathways. The project had significant outcomes in reducing transactional sex among the AGYW, decreasing age-disparate sex and promoting safe sex. Demonstrable results were found in the proportion of AGYW retained in school, with the possible knock-on effects of reducing child marriages as well as age of sexual debut. Increased access to HIV testing services and STI screening, the economic empowerment sustained over the project period and life skills training provided to the AGYW and their parents, have not only impacted the self-esteem and agency of the AGYW, but created a new perception among the AGYW and the community. Through the foregoing, the project has made a significant contribution towards reducing the vulnerability of AGYW to HIV and ultimately, to a reduction of HIV infections.