Four rural libraries create ‘mobile health clubs’ for teenage girls

Friends of African Village Libraries, Burkina Faso

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A group of young girls reading on a smart phone.
Teenage girls in rural villages are learning to use smart phones to access health information through the ‘Girls’ Mobile Health Clubs’ project.

The Girls’ Mobile Health Clubs project, initiated with support from EIFL's Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP, teaches teenage girls in four rural communities in Burkina Faso to use smart phones to improve their access to health information.

The project works through a network of four village libraries supported by the international organization Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) in Burkina Faso’s Tuy Province.

The project targets schoolgirls aged from 12 to 16. Health issues are part of the school curriculum, “but in more traditional rural areas, teachers are uncomfortable talking about them, thus they are often skipped. However, teenage pregnancy and early marriages force many girls to drop out of school,” said Ms Krystle Austin, FAVL Programme Manager.

“The village libraries are already well-known and respected by parents. They are non-threatening, comfortable environments where girls can feel free to have discussions and ask questions. The clubs will provide much-needed support for the girls as they encounter the challenges of their pre-teen and teen years,” added Ms Austin.

Librarians and midwives to support the girls

The four libraries are each organizing a girls’ health club, with 10 members. Clubs meet weekly, and members raise questions and concerns about health issues. Guided by librarians and midwives, the girls are learning to use smart phones to research the internet for answers to their questions.

As the project progresses, the librarians and midwives will help the girls write short e-books about health issues, and use the phones to set up a health blog with discussion topics and links to health services and resources.

The project partners

The libraries are working closely with health clinics in their villages. The clinics have identified midwives to work with the libraries and take part in training of librarians and clubs.

About FAVL and the libraries

The four libraries, in the villages of Béréba, Dimikuy, Koumbia and Sara, are all part of the Tuy Village Libraries network. The libraries advance rural development by providing access to print resources and organizing book clubs, literacy promotion and events focused on local concerns like health and hygiene and education. FAVL is an international NGO that manages and supports small community libraries in rural Africa.

Project timeline

May 2014 – June 2015. 

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The village libraries are non-threatening, comfortable environments where girls can feel free to have discussions and ask questions.
Krystle Austin, FAVL Programme Manager