Using fashion and data to promote dialog on sexual health
Empowering everyday people with awareness about HIV/AIDS-related challenges in their community, and equipping them with actionable information through creativity, data, and art.
PEPFAR’s investments with DREAMS partners across Tanzania reinforce the fact that Tanzanian youth face significant “social, cultural, economic, and structural barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services at a time when they need these services the most, making them vulnerable to poor health outcomes”.
The challenge of accessing information about SRH services is pressing in Temeke District – one of Tanzania’s fastest-growing urban areas with some of the country’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS. Through meetups called Listening Campaigns throughout 2017, Data Zetu met with hundreds of Temeke citizens, who consistently raised this barrier as a potential root cause for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in their neighborhoods (the data from these community insights are published online).
Many initiatives are in place to reduce these barriers. One of them is the Temeke-based FARU Arts and Sports Development Organization (FASDO), who are committed to leveraging arts and sports to combat drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and other community development priorities. Part of FASDO’s mission is to convey information about SRH services in creative ways that reach youth in communities most affected by HIV/AIDS.
FASDO has a track record of highlighting the artistry of Tanzanian youth while conveying useful information about community resources. But some valuable information was absent from this conversation. Specifically, data and evidence about HIV/AIDS – such as the extent of its reach in Temeke, where people can access SRH services, or community-prioritized needs – was not being intentionally incorporated into their work. This meant that FASDO was missing the chance to incorporate compelling evidence into their messaging and initiatives, inhibiting the effectiveness of those messages.
This problem easily translate into a unique opportunity: FASDO could amplify their efforts by developing and disseminating artwork that is informed by data – specifically, statistics about issues related to PEPFAR priorities, such as teen pregnancy or gender-based violence (GBV). Doing so could help their messages reach new audiences while also making data about the scope and extent of community challenges more accessible to everyday Tanzanians.
Data Zetu, led by partner Tanzania Bora Initiative (TBI), partnered with FASDO to design and lead a Khanga Data Design Competition for artists across Temeke district. This competition challenged young artists to embed data about community-identified priorities (as identified through the Listening Campaigns) into their designs. This pioneering initiative included:
- an online platform for a winning design,
- in-person trainings with leading fashion and data science experts,
- a public launch event to build awareness about ways to make data about SRH and GBV accessible to everyday Tanzanians, and
- online and offline initiatives to connect Tanzanians with SRH services and measure how 2,000 khangas distributed across Temeke were changing perceptions about art, data, and sexual health.
The Khanga Data Design Competition was multifaceted. After forging a partnership with FASDO, TBI invited artists to submit khanga designs related to PEPFAR priorities on Love Arts Tanzania, an existing online platform. Over 100 designs were submitted, and the creators of the most promising ones were invited to a series of workshops to build their skills on fashion design (with help from Martin Kadinda, an award- winning designer) and on accessing open data about SRH and GBV.
Through these workshops, artists refined designs and submitted their final creations for a review of panelists including data enthusiasts, artists, and representatives of PEPFAR’s DREAMS team in Tanzania. The team printed 2,000 khangas adorned with the winning design, which will distributed at a launch event in June 2018. The final step of the process includes ongoing monitoring and evaluation, driven by analyzing website traffics and offering online surveys for a special website page whose link is printed on the khangas.
Outcomes and Impact
The Khanga Data Design Competition has achieved various outcomes, with more expected in the future:
- Changes in perception: PEPFAR discovered new ways to According to its DREAMS Coordinator for Temeke District, who served as a judge for the competition: “What these designers have done with the data sets we provided is very creative and informative. This is a way of disseminating data we have never thought of”.
- New skills working with data: 100% of surveyed participants (not all were surveyed) reported an increase in their perceived value of data, and the same number reported an increase in their skills with engaging with health data (accessing, sharing, or cleaning datasets).
- Network effects:
- 92% of surveyed participants reported sharing these new data skills with others — with each one sharing them with average of almost four people.
- The winning designer conducted a seminar with 300 fellow students, introducing how artists can use data to inform their messaging.
- 2,000 khangas will soon be distributed responsibly to women in Temeke District. Assuming each is viewed by 50-100 Tanzanians before wearing out, the message should reach at least 100,000 people.
- Future impact: Meaningful behaviour change to counteract HIV/AIDS can’t happen simply through a competition like this. Each khanga is printed with a link to a webpage that:
- Directs readers to SRH and GBV resources provided by TAYOA, a formerly PEPFAR-funded organization
- Surveys visitors about their perceptions about the value of health data to inform their decisions
- Links readers to digital tools that help them find help and access to services.
3. Khangas are fabrics worn by women which traditionally contain powerful, bold social messages.