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Enhancing the Economic Health and Social Capabilities of Highly Vulnerable Youth

  • 2007-2010
  • Project
Hallman, Kelly, Population Council

Study: “Enhancing the Economic, Health, and Social Capabilities of Highly Vulnerable Youth”
PI(s): Hallman, Kelly
Affiliation(s): Population Council
Institutional Partner(s): ESRC
Project Dates:
Start: 2007
End: 2010
Data Source(s): Panel Data
Methods: MV Analysis
Geographic Location(s): South Africa

Young people in South Africa face a high risk of HIV, teenage pregnancy, school dropout, and unemployment, and are further disadvantaged by the actual or potential loss of one or both parents to HIV and conditions of poverty, inequality, and food insecurity. These circumstances make the transition from childhood to adulthood especially difficult, and many of the most disadvantaged are in danger of falling even farther behind socially and economically due to illness, stigma, and the loss of key supportive adults such as parents and teachers. Many programs fail to recognize that young people’s vulnerabilities differ by ethnicity, age, gender, SES, social connectedness, and orphanhood status. Additionally, not many programs for young people have been evaluated for impact.

This research presents baseline findings from an intervention randomized at the classroom level in peri-urban secondary schools within the Durban metro area of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa – the “Siyakha Nentsha” program. The intervention is designed to provide vulnerable young people residing in poor, HIV/AIDS-affected communities with increased capabilities for building health, social, and economic assets over the life course. The strategic skills proposed are geared to help offer protective strategies against HIV and early pregnancy and to build economic assets. As the vast majority of adolescents in South Africa attend secondary school, this is an effective and replicable strategy for reaching a representative group and reducing the possibility of selection bias.

Baseline findings from the study show program participants to be a vulnerable group, facing situations of orphaning, poverty, and lack of supportive structures to deal with such circumstances. However, these factors seem to have a variety of connections with behaviors and experiences that affect sexual and reproductive health and HIV. In some cases, protective factors for females and males are common but their influence may be on different behaviors. In other cases, factors associated with healthy outcomes and behaviors differ by gender. A second round of data collection is currently underway, and will allow for assessment of the program’s short-term impacts on young people’s vulnerabilities and experiences.

Research Outputs:

Grant, Monica J. & Hallman, Kelly K. (2008). Pregnancy-related school dropout and prior school performance in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Studies in Family Planning, 39(4), 369-382. DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2008.00181.

Hallman, Kelly. (2008). Researching the Determinants of Vulnerability to HIV among Adolescents. IDS Bulletin, 39(5): 36-44. DOI; 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2008.tb00493.x

Hallman, Kelly. (2009). Social exclusion: The gendering of adolescent HIV risks in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In The Fourth Wave: An Assault on Women-Gender, Culture and HIV in the 21st Century.

Hallman, Kelly & Roca, Eva. (2011). Siyakha Nentsha: Building economic, health, and social capabilities among highly vulnerable adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Population Council Brief No. 4).

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