Senga Model to reach Out-of-School Teen Girls

Category 1

The Senga Model is a preventative gender technique that utilizes the traditional role of the father's sister, or senga, in educating adolescent girls in sex, marriage, and other social behaviors of adult women. Through this channel the Medical Research Council Programme on AIDS in Uganda explored using the senga tradition to teach adolescent girls behavioral techniques to help prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.

The HIV/AIDS rate of adolescent girls in Uganda is five times that of their male counterparts and their incidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 is twice as high. Adolescent women are in strong need of systems of sexual knowledge and the Senga Model utilizes a traditional method for spreading this vital information to out-of-school girls who have few other resources.

Goal of the Practice
  • Train modern sengas to provide comprehensive sex education services to adolescents out-of-school adolescents in their community to help prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.
Core Components
  • Two community poles, one of adolescent women and one of mature women, to elect local sengas for training.
  • Training of sengas on sexual health information relevant to adolescent girls including; HIV/AIDS, STIs, talking about sex, condom use, family planning, partner reduction, delayed first sex, techniques for avoiding risky or unwanted sex, treatment of STIs, traditional sex practices, and counseling skills.
  • 12-month longitudinal study using both qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate senga activities.
  • Introduce villages to their appointed sengas and explain how they can be of service to community members.
Noteworthy Results
  • A total of 247 individuals made 403 visits to the sengas (181 adolescent girls, 48 adolescent boys, 20 adult men and 154 adult women).
  • In the evaluation of the intervention it was found that the main reason that people consulted sengas was to get information about STDs and labial elongation.
  • Although the senga activities were designed for out-of-school girls the activities also reached those in school. For the schoolgirls, the senga activities provided supplementary knowledge and an appropriate social context for discussing the limited sexual health information they learned at school as well as putting such knowledge into the local cultural context.
Lessons Learned
  • The senga model has been researched, with positive results. The model offers useful information on using traditional cultural practices and people to reach adolescent girls, especially those who aren't in school. It demonstrates how traditional practices can be updated to the "modern" world, especially for HIV prevention.
Focus Areas
Implemented By
Medical Research Council Programme on AIDS in Uganda
Participating Organization
Prevention Technical Team
Target Population
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • Females
100 - 500
Implementation Years
01/2001 - 01/2004