What are the next steps in the initiative?

Looking forward into late 2014 and 2015, the initiative is working towards:

  • Stronger engagement and leadership from the SADC and EAC in holding countries accountable to achieving ESA commitment targets
  • Support for monitoring country implementation and reporting
  • Technical and financial support for the implementation of the ESA Commitment country work plans
  • Scale up of CSE for teachers and health workers
  • Continued advocacy and sensitization to strengthen engagement with Ministries beyond Education and Health to ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing issues of young people
  • Hosting the Cape town one-year review meeting during the Zambia ASRH conference in December 2014

What has been the progress to-date?

At Country level:
15 out of 20 countries have held processes to develop multi-sectoral implementation plans

Inter-sectoral ministerial plans

  • The Education and Health sectors have led the development of inter-sectoral implementation plans to address the ESA Commitments targets(15 out of 21 countries).

Joint cabinet paper and MOUs

  • Joint Cabinet papers have been produced by the MOEs & MOH and other line Ministries on the ESA commitment and to integrate CSE in existing interventions (Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho)

National Policies and Strategies reviewed to include CSE

  • Development of National Strategies on CSE and allocation of Human Resources at NAC to coordinate the commitment (3 Countries)

Resource mobilization & increased advocacy for joint activities

  • Allocation of budget to support the implementation of costed country work plans and to revamp the country’s responses to CSE, SRH services for young people (Lesotho, Tanzania, Lesotho, Uganda).
  • MP for youth is championing the Commitment and has committed to ensuring that the ESA Commitment is tabled in the floor of parliament and discussed at the Parliamentary Committees where responsible Ministers will be called to appear (Uganda)

Support for the development and review of School Health Policies

  • Discussions on integrating ESA Commitment recommendations in the School Health Policy (Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda).

 At Regional Level:

Finalization of the Regional Accountability Framework

  • To be used as a key instrument by the Regional Economic Commissions to monitor progress

Harmonization of the legal environment on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in the East and Southern Africa Region (UNFPA in collaboration with SADC, EAC, and IGAD, and the members of the UN Inter-agency Task Team on Young People (UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and UNAIDS). Review is expected to commence by mid-August 2014


Assessment and development of harmonized regional youth friendly services guidelines, protocols and manual (UNFPA and IPPFAR, in close collaboration with SADC, EAC, and IGAD, and the members of the UN Inter-agency Task Team on Young People (UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and UNAIDS))

  • Assessment is expected to commence by mid-July 2014 and be finalized by end-November 2014
  • Development of harmonized regional youth friendly services guidelines, protocols and manuals to commence by end November 2014 with expected finalization by mid-year 2015

Ending Child Marriage

  • Support to regional Meeting to address Child Marriage

Scaling up CSE in Teacher Education

  • Situational analysis on status of CSE in TE – August 2014
  • Development of a standalone pre-service module for teacher training on CSE – Sept 2014
  • Development of an online course for in-service CSE training for teachers  – Dec 2014

For a full update on progress, go to our country progress page.

What is contained in the Commitment Document?

The endorsed commitment statement has an accountability clause that binds the countries to deliver on certain targets in a given time period.

By the end of 2015, each country will achieve the ten commitments and following targets:

  • A good quality CSE curriculum framework is in place and being implemented
  • Pre and in-service sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and CSE training for teachers, health and social workers are in place and being implemented
  • Decrease the number of adolescents and young people who do not have access to youth-friendly SRH services by 50 per cent. This includes equitable, accessible, acceptable, appropriate and effective services related to HIV.

In the longer term, we will work towards reaching the following targets by the end of 2020:

  • Consolidate recent and hard-won gains in the reduction of HIV prevalence in ESA and push towards eliminating all new HIV infections amongst adolescents and young people aged 10-24;
  • Increase to 95% the number of adolescents and young people, aged 10-24, who demonstrate comprehensive HIV prevention knowledge levels;
  • Reduce early and unintended pregnancies among young people by 75 per cent;
  • Eliminate gender-based violence;
  • Eliminate child marriage;
  • Increase the number of all schools and teacher training institutions that provide CSE to 75 per cent.

Read full ESA Commitment here

What are the issues prevailing among young people when it comes to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual reproductive health?

An in-depth Regional Report published in 2013 reveals that

  • 40 per cent of young people have basic information about HIV;
  • 2.6 million young people are living with HIV;
  • 52 percent of all new infections among young people occur in ESA region;
  • There is limited access to critical adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) services;
  • Early pregnancy is a major cause for school dropout;
  • Cultural practices can act as a barrier;
  • Education and health initiatives are not fully implemented and
  • Gender based violence (GBV) is as high as 35 per cent among young women.

Who is a part of the ESA Commitment?

Countries included in the ESA Commitment:

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Burundi
  • DR Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Sechelles
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

How did the agreement come about?

In a global context, sub-Saharan Africa remains the region that is most affected by the HIV epidemic, despite positive signs that HIV prevalence is declining overall among young people. The high numbers of new infections among young people still remain a serious concern. HIV-related stigma and discrimination, including attitudes based on laws and policies, continue to impede responses to the epidemic and very often prevent young people from accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

At the same time, young people in the region are demanding access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and health services.

Although the education sector provides a key role in sexual and reproductive rights, it is evident that this alone cannot meet all the needs of young people. The health sector also needs to be part of the discussion to ensure the education being taught in schools is complemented and consistent with the health services being provided in the region. While the mandates of the health and education sector are clearly different, the linkages between the two are critical for ensuring a holistic approach to influencing and enabling sexual reproductive health and rights.

In late 2011, under the leadership of UNAIDS and with the support of Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Regional Economic Communities (EAC and SADC), UNESCO initiated a process that aimed to develop and implement a commitment around the needs and rights of young people. The initiative has now expanded to include core UN partners and civil society organizations from across the region.

The commitment has brought together both education and health sector, policy makers and young people: to collaborate and strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights.

What is the Young People Today campaign?

In support of the process and commitment, a vibrant, communication campaign: Young People Today, Time to act now campaign was developed. It urges ministers in 20 ESA countries to keep adolescent and youth’s sexual and reproductive health information and services at the forefront of the National agenda in the member states.

What is the ESA Commitment?

The Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Commitment is a joint initiative between national governments, the UN, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Eastern African Community (EAC) and civil society and development partners under the leadership of UNAIDS.

It aims at reducing HIV infection and improving sexual health outcomes for young people in Eastern and Southern Africa. The process was initiated two years ago from a diagnostic study that was commissioned in 21 countries. Read the summary report here.


Wonderful to have young reporters asking their questions to our high level panelists today at @UNESCO #UNESCO dialogue hosted by South Africa's Dept of Basic #Education on scaling up #comprehensivesexualityeducation #CSE #CSENOW #YouthSRHNow Children's Radio Foundation #SaveTheChildren

[Photos by Czerina Patel]

Unesco Regional Office for Southern Africa
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Group photo of some following today's UNESCO High Level Policy Dialogue on #comprehensivesexualityeducation hosted by the Department of Basic Education in South Africa ! #ESACommitment #YouthSRHNow #CSENow #sexualityeducation #knowledgeispower

[Photos by Czerina Patel]
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‪#UNESCO Regional Director of #EastAfrica Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta & #Sweden Education Minister Gustav #Fridolin on SAFMNews Channel 404 this morning talking about the urgent need for govts to commit to #comprehensivesexualityeducation #CSE #CSENow #YouthSRHNow‬

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