From Coding to Contraception: Athumani Helps A360 Team Get Stronger Impact

Athumani used to spend his days drinking Red Bull and coding for hours at a time. This computer science major is now an Innovation Officer with PSI’s Adolescents 360 program.

He was working in PSI’s IT department and saw the Adolescents 360 team brainstorming ways they could talk to Tanzania’s teenage girls about contraception and pregnancy prevention in relevant and effective ways.

“There were cardboard boxes and sticky notes. The girls came in and said what they liked and what they didn’t. It looked so exciting.”

Athumani applied for a position as an Innovation Officer and was put to the test. “They asked me to come up with ideas. Then we went out on the street and shared them with girls. I had to take down their recommendations and bring them back to the team.”

Now Athumani is in charge of helping streamline Adolescents 360 activities. If it’s about logistics, it has Athumani’s name written all over it.

At the Pop Up events, where teenage girls come to learn a skill and meet with a healthcare provider if they want, wait times were trending too long. Athumani had to figure out why and speed up the process. He requested two providers instead of one and he asked the providers to standardize the time they spent with each girl.

When the number of attendees dip, he works with the team to identify why — was there too little marketing, were there concerns about the location, were the parents wary of the event?

Like many young Tanzanian people, Athumani has been affected by teenage pregnancy. My cousin got pregnant very young and had to drop out of school. It makes me feel like I need to give this information to other girls.”

Adolescents 360 (A360) is a four-and-a-half year initiative co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The project is led by Population Services International (PSI) together with, University of California at Berkeley Center on the Developing Adolescent, the Society for Family Health Nigeria, and Triggerise. The project is being delivered in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, in partnership with local governments, local organizations, and local technology and marketing firms. In Tanzania, A360 is building on an investment and talent from philanthropist and design thinker Pam Scott.