Last week on 14th March, 2017 JHPIEGO launched a project called “The Challenge Initiative – Tupange Pamoja”, at Villa Rosa Kempinski – Nairobi.

Among those present as distinguished guests included: Planning PS Saitoti Torome, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Hon. Sarah Opendi, Uganda Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Health, and several county representatives as well as the JHPIEGO and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation leadership.

The Challenge Initiative – Tupange Pamoja aims to increase access to and utilization of quality family planning services especially in disadvantaged urban settings. It centers around an innovative, demand-driven approach that encourages counties or districts to assume an active role in project design and implementation, while local and global partners take supporting and facilitating roles. Interested cities will demonstrate their commitment by pledging to bring their own resources, (funds or in-kind), to the table.

The Initiative is based on the evidence gathered from the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (URHI) in four countries including Kenya – Tupange Project. It was a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – funded multi-country program, which showed what worked where and why.

Already several counties have commitment and are listed below:

County Amount committed (in KSh) Financial year
Migori 30,000,000 KES 2017/2018
Kericho 13,762,629 KES 2017/2018
Uasin Gishu 10,506,000 KES 2017/2018
Nandi 48,350,150 KES 2017/2018
Elgeyo/Marakwet 4,000,000 KES 2017/2018
Nairobi 39,674,720 KES 2016/2017
Mombasa 2,500,000 KES 2017/2018
Kilifi County 2,000,000 KES 2017/2018
         TOTAL 150,793,499 KES  


The Challenge Initiative launch was a great success and Uganda and Tanzania were also well represented and form part of the East Africa Accelerator Hub.


Hon. Saitoti Torome, PS for Planning, Representing the CS- Kenya Ministry of Devolution and Planning, outlined the threat of a high growth rate if not curbed and how it would result in a poor economic status. He informed the guests that the current population and health policy would be revised to reflect all counties and the counties would also contribute towards that goal. Additionally, they plan to make it compulsory for Family Planning budgets to be made, although it is a known fact that budgeting and actual implementation are two different issues. So assessment needs to be done initially to track down effectiveness of Family Planning policy both at national and county level. This then will make it easy for partners and donors to contribute.

Hon. Sarah Opendi, Uganda CS for Ministry of Health, reiterated Uganda’s commitment to Family Planning. Uganda is the 2nd youngest country and have 78% of under age of 30 years of the population, with a high rate of teenage pregnancies, young marriages, and a high maternal mortality rate. So they have made a huge investment in maternal health with a lot of effort in rural parts of the country compared to urban areas. She cited the fact that the challenge initiative would help reduce over dependence on donor funds and allow ownership of this initiative.

Dr. Mildred Mudanyi, Kenya Country Director emphasized the need for family planning which would enable women to remain healthier and engage in economic activities hence providing for their family’s wellbeing.

Deborah Bosseymeyer, Global Programs Operations, JHPIEGO, gave a vote of thanks to the East African governments while explaining the importance of The Challenge initiative – Tupange Pamoja, and its ability to help improve each country’s CPR (contraceptive prevalence rate) goals. Like Kenya is 70% by 2030.

Nelson Keyonzo, TCI Project director – E.A. JHPIEGO, urged the stakeholders not to leave the URHI – Tupange project as a pilot program especially after its great success, but to now scale it up using lessons learnt.

Jose Oying G. Rimon II, Director, BMGI for Population & Reproductive Health and Concurrent Director, The Challenge Initiative, really lit up the crowd when he broke it down as to what the impact of the challenge initiative would result in. The Challenge Initiative model is a business “unusual” approach model. The return on investment is very high, i.e. for every $1 invested, $120 return will be realized. This is even higher then ROI on immunizations which is at $60. This data was supported by The Copenhagen Consensus Project organization, an independent body, which ranked Family Planning as 2nd in gaining economic benefits worldwide. The funds come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which also gets angel investing, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute and implemented by the challenge initiative.

Katie Simons, Deputy Director, Family Planning BMGF reiterated that at the foundation they remain focused on the London Summit of reaching 120 million additional women by 2020 and Sustainable Development Goals of universal access to contraceptives by 2030. TCI offers a compelling opportunity to advance BMGF’s goals.

In summary, there’s no doubt that the challenge initiative is a business “unusual” approach model that is going to transform lives for women and girls of reproductive age and improve the economic status and wellbeing of not only their families but of the community as a whole.