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Zvandiri Peer Support Challenge

Challenge Summary: The Zvandiri Challenge is seeking an innovative digital solution that will engage, recruit, train and support Peer Supporters enabling organisations/clinics to effectively manage those within their peer-support programme. The objective is to improve the guidance and help provided to peer supporters so they may continue to help HIV positive adolescents through community level outreach programmes.

Current Status: closed, winners to be announced shortly

Challenge Close: Concept note deadline: 1st February 23:59 GMT; Full application: 11th March 23:59 GMT

Prize amount: $25,000 + Immersion Experience 

In Collaboration With: AFRICAID


Africaid is a community based organisation in Zimbabwe which, through its Zvandiri programme, provides community based prevention, treatment, care and support for children, adolescents and young people living with HIV.

Zvandiri aims to support the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the provision of comprehensive care through ensuring a robust continuum of care between the clinic and the community. Most importantly HIV positive children and adolescents are at the heart of the programme, taking the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating all of Africaid’s programmes and activities.



Approximately 2 million adolescents (10-19 years) are living with HIV globally and account for 1 in 7 new HIV infections[1] From 2005-2012, adolescents were the only population worldwide that saw an increase in AIDS-related deaths – a 50% increase in adolescents compared with a 30% decline in the general population. In addition to the many complex physical, emotional and social changes all adolescents face, those living with HIV are met with additional challenges while transitioning into adulthood:

  • Living with a chronic infection
  • Disclosing their HIV status to friends and family
  • Adhering to life-long medication
  • Preventing HIV transmission to sexual partners
  • Transferring between child and adult services
  • Dealing with stigma and discrimination at a young age

Adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly affected by these problems – 62% of adolescents living with HIV live in Eastern and Southern Africa, and HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in adolescents on the continent.

Long-term adherence to medication is vital to ensure that anybody living with HIV remains healthy but for adolescents in particular, poor adherence is leading to negative health outcomes. Adolescent peer-support programmes have proved successful in helping adolescents living with HIV adhere to treatment, while dealing with the complex social challenges they face, especially in resource-limited settings.

The Zvandiri programme in Zimbabwe trains and mentors HIV positive adolescents and young people, 18-24 years old, as Peer Supporters - commonly known in the Zvandiri programme as Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS). Peer Supporters are a crucial element of the Zvandiri Model who provide information, counselling, monitoring and support for children and adolescents with HIV in their own communities and health facilities. 

As affordable smartphones become increasingly available and the associated network costs decline, m-/e-health solutions are offering impactful tools to affect positive change for adolescents living with HIV. For example, there are apps which enable anonymous conversation between adolescents and peer supporters. One example of such an app is PeerStrong which is a new mobile application created by Inquisit Health Inc, a digital health start-up, with the support of ViiV Healthcare. PeerStrong allows people living with HIV to receive one-on-one support via anonymous chat with a trained and vetted peer supporter, as well as connecting to a broader peer discussion community.

Whilst conversation enabling apps such as PeerStrong exist, there has been limited focus on the role of the peer supporters themselves. This has left a gap where technology could be leveraged to enable organisations/clinics to build more robust peer-support programmes and, in so doing, better support the peer supporters themselves.


Positive Action Challenges and Africaid are seeking an innovative solution that will support the existing Zvandiri Peer-Support Model  and run alongside conversation enabling apps, to engage, recruit, train and support Peer Supporters, in turn enabling a reliable, quality and engaged flow of highly trained, vetted and supported peer supporters.

The solution’s key user is the organisation/clinic running the peer support programme who will use the tool within their peer-support programme’s to engage, recruit, train and support their peers.

Possible digital/ technology solutions include smartphone apps, websites, communications, and software. Crucially, any digital solution must take account of:

            (a) complementarity to the Zvandiri model or other similar models of peer support

            (b) ensuring a reliable flow of trained, vetted and quality peer supporters;

            (c) developing a resource that provides support to the peer supporters;

            (d) the importance of positive, motivating and empowering messaging;

            (e) local availability and low or no-cost of relevant technologies;

            (f) easy to understand terminology;

            (g) avoiding potential stigma, discrimination and social isolation associated with seeking HIV services and disclosure of HIV positive                 status.

Whilst the innovation must complement Africaid’s Zvandiri model, the solution must be adaptable to other peer support models to maximise replicability and scalability where the Zvandiri model is not yet used.

The winning team will have the opportunity to carry out further research and development on their innovation through both learning sessions with the PeerStrong development team and an ‘immersion’ experience in Zimbabwe with the Africaid team, before returning to develop their full product prototype.

Challenge Statement: Design a digital or mobile solution at the community level to engage, recruit and train Peer Supporters that enables organisations/clinics to effectively manage those within their peer-support programme. The objective is to improve the guidance and help provided to peer supporters so they may continue to help HIV positive adolescents through community level outreach programmes.

 The solution developed should be applicable to the Zvandiri model but be adaptable to other peer-support models.


Applications from individuals and groups under the age of 25 are particularly welcomed for this challenge!




Positive Action Challenges and Africaid are offering the winner an ‘immersion experience’ with Africaid’s Zvandiri programme to carry out further research and development. This will give winners on-the-ground experience working with the Zvandiri team and real-world insights into the challenges faced by adolescents living with HIV. Winners will use this to adapt their proposal and further develop their digital solution.

The Prize winner will be expected to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), test this concept and develop a final product prototype. A MVP is a product that has the essential features to function from which testing can occur. This prevents wasting resources by testing a concept in its early development so improvements can be made early on. The winner is expected to test this and gather user feedback, thereafter finalising the prototype.