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TheCollaborative’s Journey: Reflecting on the Outgoing and Welcoming the Incoming Steering Committee

“TheCollaborative”, a dynamic epicenter for knowledge exchange and collaboration within the realm of Family Planning and Reproductive Health (FP/RH) in East Africa, has had the privilege of being steered by a dedicated team of eight professionals during the 2022/23 term. These individuals have played a pivotal role in navigating the ever-evolving FP/RH landscape in the region, offering invaluable insights and facilitating access to an extensive array of FP/RH platforms, encompassing both physical and virtual realms. They have championed Knowledge Management as a means to enhance efficiencies in FP/RH programming, implementation, and information dissemination throughout the region.

This FP/RH Community of Practice  (est. 2021) has served as a connecting thread, bringing together 376 members from 16 African countries, representing government entities, non-governmental organizations, international development agencies, and donors, all united by a shared commitment to advancing FP/RH initiatives.”

As we express our gratitude to the outgoing members, we capture their invaluable experiences and insights. Join us in celebrating their journey and gathering wisdom for the incoming team.

Images of each member of the The Collaborative's 2022-2023 Steering Committee

Navigating at the Grassroots – Shadrack Msuya (Tanzania)

Image of Shadrack Msuya (Tanzania)

Shadrack’s tenure on the steering committee allowed him to engage stakeholders at the grassroots level. He championed essential topics, playing a vital role in selecting key participants for discussions. A highlight was his involvement in promoting comprehensive sexuality education where he moderated a three-member panel of experts from UNESCO, HDI-Rwanda and the Centre for Adolescent Studies – Kenya in a webinar titled “Comprehensive Sexuality Education in East Africa: What does it entail? Country models, Success stories, and challenges”

Shadrack advises the upcoming team to actively engage and champion critical dialogues within their respective countries.

Broadening Horizons Through Engagement – Athnase Rukundo (Rwanda)

Image of Athnase Rukundo (Rwanda), outgoing committee member.

Athnase’s experience on the steering committee broadened his horizons. He connected with representatives from different countries, gaining insights into their unique FP/SRH initiatives. Contributions to planning meetings and activities, including attending events like the AHAIC conference, were pivotal. Athnase emphasizes the importance of webinars and tools, as well as the structured organization of the steering committee by country. He encourages the incoming team to embrace TheCollaborative as a platform for building knowledge and essential networks.

Empowering Content Creation – Njeri Mbugua (Kenya)

Njeri Mbugua (Kenya), outgoing committee member

Njeri focused on empowering content creation during her tenure. She addressed the challenge of generating and accessing relevant content for FP/RH practitioners and enthusiasts. Njeri successfully bridged the Knowledge SUCCESS project with her organization, JHPIEGO, and collaborated with the secretariat to create valuable content pieces. Topics included intergenerational dialogue and innovative approaches to family planning and reproductive health service provision through pharmacies.

Insights from Multiple Countries – Collins Otieno (Kenya)

Collins Otieno (Kenya), outgoing committee member

Collins underscores the unique opportunity provided by the steering committee to connect with members from various Eastern African countries. This diversity enriched discussions by offering insights and perspectives on the FP/SRH landscape across nations. The committee’s structured organization by country and the separate WhatsApp group allowed for sharing country-specific perspectives before presenting them to the broader CoP community. Collins also values the chance to contribute to shaping themes, activities, and discussions within the CoP. He emphasizes the personal growth and skills development gained through participation.

Advocating for Male Engagement and the Girl Child – Katanta Simwanza (Tanzania)

Katanta Simwanza (Tanzania), outgoing committee member

Katanta played a pivotal role in advocating for male engagement and addressing issues related to the girl child within FP/SRH discussions. His contributions helped illuminate crucial aspects of reproductive health that require attention.

The outgoing steering committee members have been guiding lights in TheCollaborative. Their experiences and advice serve as a testament to the power of collaboration, knowledge exchange, and advocacy within the realm of family planning and reproductive health. As we welcome new leaders to carry the torch forward, let us heed the wisdom of these esteemed members and continue to strengthen our commitment to this vital cause.

Images of the 2023-2024 Steering Committee Members

Welcoming the Incoming Steering Committee

As TheCollaborative welcomes its newly elected steering committee members, a diverse group of dedicated individuals from across East Africa, we can’t help but feel the excitement and passion they bring to the table. Elected by popular vote and set to lead the community of practice (CoP) for the next 12 months, these new leaders come with a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to advancing the field of family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH). Let’s hear what they have to say about their aspirations and plans for the CoP.

Grace Munisi (Tanzania)

With a background as a gender, health, and development specialist, Grace brings a wealth of experience to the steering committee. She is keen to enhance the understanding that gender issues play a significant role in achieving the ambitious FP2030 goals. Her work with the Save Mothers Initiative in Tanzania and her role on the executive steering committee of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Generation of Equality initiative make her a valuable addition to the team.

Henry Wasswa (Uganda)

Henry is a public health professional and clinical practitioner who has been actively engaged in FP/RH initiatives, including the “Wish to Action” and “Standup” projects. His participation in Knowledge SUCCESS events, Learning Circles, and FP Insights showcases his dedication to the field. As a program implementer, he aims to share valuable insights into family planning and SRH practices.

Amanda Banura (Uganda)

Amanda’s role as the Uganda Youth Alliance for Family Planning and Adolescent Health and the Youth Focal Point for FP2030 has equipped her with a deep understanding of youth advocacy. She’s not only a journalist by profession but also a passionate youth advocate and trainer of trainers. Amanda’s goal is to connect with other professionals, explore regional collaborations, and continue advocating for youth voices in FP/RH.

Athnase Rukundo (Rwanda)

Athnase, a medical doctor with expertise in epidemiology, is no stranger to TheCollaborative. He values the opportunities for learning and networking that the steering committee provides. Athnase’s involvement in various technical working groups on SRH and family planning positions him to contribute valuable insights and learnings to the community.

Alliance Ishimwe (Rwanda)

Serving as the FP2030 youth focal point representative for Rwanda, Alliance is committed to advocating for youth inclusion in SRH discussions. She plays an active role in technical working groups and contributes to the development of inclusive services and policies for young people. Her experience and passion for youth engagement will be instrumental in the CoP.

Keflie Yohannes (Ethiopia)

Keflie is a dedicated SRH professional and public health expert eager to share the achievements and lessons from his work in Ethiopia. His participation in Learning Circles sparked his interest in TheCollaborative, and he is determined to lead the FP/RH agenda within the CoP.

Howard Akamala (Kenya)

Howard serves as the vice-chair of Health NGOs Network in Kenya and works for Living Goods, focusing on community health and youth access to SRH services. He brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to ensuring equitable access to RMNCH services, particularly for young people.

Saraphina Ambale (Kenya)

Saraphina, founder of Eagle Wings Organization in Kisumu, is dedicated to improving SRH for young girls and women. She is actively involved in the GBV technical working group and the SRHR Alliance. Saraphina is excited about contributing to conversations on enhancing family planning and promoting SRHR.

Athnase Rukundo (Rwanda)

As the secretariat, the team is focused on enhancing visibility, commitment to the CoP’s purpose, and tapping into existing networks to push forward country efforts. They aim to share lessons across countries, facilitating scaling up, replication, and continuous learning from successful interventions.

With this dynamic and passionate incoming steering committee, TheCollaborative is set to embark on a transformative journey in advancing family planning and reproductive health across East Africa. Stay tuned for more updates as this dedicated team works tirelessly to make a positive impact in the field.

Irene Alenga

Knowledge Management and Community Engagement Lead, Advocacy Accelerator

Irene is an established social economist with over 13 years’ experience in research, policy analysis, knowledge management, and partnership engagement. As a researcher, she has been involved in the coordination and implementation of over 20 social economic research projects in various disciplines within the Eastern African Region. In her work as a Knowledge Management Consultant, Irene has been involved in health-related studies through work with public health and technology-focused institutions in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi where she has successfully teased out impact stories and increased visibility of project interventions. Her expertise in developing and supporting management processes, lessons learned, and best practices is exemplified in the three-year organizational change management and project closure process of the USAID| DELIVER and Supply Chain Management Systems (SCMS) 10-year project in Tanzania. In the emerging practice of Human Centered Design, Irene has successfully facilitated a positive end to end product experience through conducting user experience studies while implementing the USAID| DREAMS Project amongst adolescent girls and young women (AGYWs) in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Irene is well-versed in resource mobilization and donor management, especially with USAID, DFID, and EU.

Collins Otieno

East Africa FP/RH Technical Officer

Meet Collins, a versatile development practitioner with a wealth of experience and expertise in family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) communication, program and grant management, capacity strengthening and technical assistance, social and behavior change, information management, and media/communication outreach. Collins has dedicated his career to working with local, national, and international development NGOs to implement successful FP/RH interventions in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, & Ethiopia) and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Nigeria). His work has focused on youth development, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH), community engagement, media campaigns, advocacy communications, social norms, and civic engagement. Previously, Collins worked with Planned Parenthood Global, where he provided FP/RH technical assistance and support to Africa Region country programs. He contributed to the FP2030 Initiative’s High Impact Practices (HIP) program in developing the FP HIP briefs. He also worked with The Youth Agenda and I Choose Life-Africa, where he led various youth campaigns and FP/RH initiatives. In addition to his professional endeavors, Collins is passionate about exploring how digital communication and engagement are shaping and moving FP/RH development in Africa and around the world. He loves the outdoors and is an avid camper and hiker. Collins is also a social media enthusiast and can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter.