Human-Centered Design // Sexual Reproductive Health // Social Impact
Tuonge is a USSD/SMS based platform designed for parents to easily access SRH information and tips on how to approach SRH issues with their children. Adopting a model of gradual learning, content is curated by gender, age, and subject. A support hotline feature also connects parents with existing local community health services and workshops.
Work completed with Antonia Jara Contreras, Nelofar Taheri, Thomas Hartley, Yuying Zhang, Kennedy Kioli, Eliud Munuve. GoGlobal program organized by Imperial College, Royal College of Arts, Nairobi Design Institute, and Gearbox
Fieldwork & Testing
Over the three weeks, interviews were conducted with parents, pharmacists, adolescents, teachers, as well as various local SRH-focused organizations like Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK), and Dance4Life. Valuable insights were gathered to push our design forward. We created and fine-tuned different journey maps of parents and children as well as tested different content, age appropriate topics, and output mediums.
Driven by a deep rooted cultural misconception, SRH topics are often stigmatized as being a taboo with the fear that providing children information will lead to practice. Our fieldwork suggests that parents do feel responsible to communicate these topics with their children so they have more control on what is conveyed. Concurrently, most children prefer information provided by their parents as suppose to teachers. Unlike children who now have Sex-Ed classes in year 6 & 8, we found that parents often speak from experience as they lack the same education growing up.
Our target users are young Kenyan parents of medium to low-income area who have newborns to 16 year olds and a mobile phone that may not be a smartphone. These parents lack accurate SRH information, but have the desire to learn and educate their children.
With 80% of the population of Kenya possessing a mobile, 30% of which are smartphones and 50% of which are non smartphones, we prototyped a live USSD/SMS mobile platform in Swahili and English to maximize accessibility.
By filtering topics to gender and age we hope parents will start SRH conversations with their children earlier. Topics range from boundaries and respect at a young age to the use of contraceptives during adolescent years. Concise information and conversation starters are provided via SMS paid by our service. A feedback feature allow users to help us improve our platform and content overtime. Data collected can be used to enrich topics discussed in schools, clinics and workshops.
Tuonge will be registered as a social enterprise for potential future cash flow, engaging with communities and partner with NGOs such as FHOK and Radio Alliance to distribute our platform. As we expand our offerings, market and introduce new target users, we hope to partner with the government as an asset and focus on the data collected to improve SRH education in Kenya and East Africa.
A detailed version of the business plan can be found here
Validation & Vision
To validate our idea with the target communities, we distributed our beta platform on a local community radio, Ruben FM. Over the hour long segment, we onboard 30 users within a 5km radius. We envision a future where children in Kenya begin to learn about SRH at a young age. Instead of one awkward sex talk, we propose multiple smaller ones over a child’s development. We aim to empower parents so they feel confident in discussing such topics. Above all, we envision a future where adolescents and youth are in control of their health.
Tuonge was exhibited at GoGlobal 2019 exhibition hosted at IHub, Nairobi, which coincided with Nairobi Design week. It was a great opportunity to present our idea to the general public and industry professionals.