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Community Contribution

Working Outside of the Box: Adapting a Health Program to Become Market-Aware

Ashleigh Mullinax and Ann Wahinya

Global Communities' Kenya DREAMS project was an unlikely candidate to attend the 2018 SEEP-supported workshop on Minimum Standards for Economic Recovery (MERS). Firstly, DREAMS is typically categorized as a "health" project since its ultimate project goal is to reduce the prevalence of HIV infections in adolescent girls in Kenya. Secondly, DREAMS is a development project, not a humanitarian response project typically associated with the MERS. Despite these assumptions, Global Communities exhibited openness, a commitment to learn and dedicated resources to send two DREAMS representatives to the workshop in Amman, Jordan.

The DREAMS project representatives surprised everyone in attendance at the workshop with their ability to quickly connect MERS principles to their work. Utilizing CLA approaches such as Pause and Reflect, the DREAMS attendees applied learning on MERS to determine areas within their project that could be made more market-aware. Following the workshop, the DREAMS project engaged in Continuous Learning & Improvement by sharing out key learning from the MERS workshop with team members. Following the openness of project management to adapt programming to incorporate MERS, DREAMS then began extensive external collaboration with key project stakeholders including their Technical Advisory Committee and the Sub-County and Ward Advisory Committee who had significant input into deciding on next steps to integrate MERS into program activities. DREAMS developed a market assessment tool with input from multiple sources and began to adapt programming to support a more market-based approach when facilitating economic opportunities for adolescent girls in slum areas in Kenya. While the project is still assessing formal outcomes of this adaptive management approach, initial feedback has been positive, both from program beneficiaries and the business communities within which the project operates.

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