Reflections on the HCDExchange journey so far with MaqC Eric Gitau

Feb 2, 2021

Dear Community,

Most of us would agree that 2020 was a particularly challenging year. A global pandemic completely upended our conventional ways of living and working in ways that may have seemed unimaginable when the year started.

For us at the HCDExchange, we started the year with a bold vision to catalyse a strong community of practice that would help us learn, reflect, and gather an evidence base on how human-centred design could shift and transform adolescent sexual health. When the pandemic hit, we knew we would face an inherent challenge with the community aspect of our mission: how could we build a strong community without the in person interactions that are so often integral to forming durable links among people and organizations? 

Nevertheless, being design led in principle and practice, we quickly adopted an inclusive, user focused approach to the challenge by inviting people and organizations in the community of practice to help us chart a way forward through a community brainstorm. That brainstorm, in which many of you participated, helped us develop two exciting community initiatives: 

  • A series of monthly learning webinars that convened the community to unpack important issues in HCD+ASRH. (Watch them on our  YouTube channel ).
  • A collaborative design sprint on supporting adolescents during COVID-19 between HCDExchange and’s Billion Girls Co-Lab. The collaboration led to the creation of VoiceUp, a digital toolkit to support adolescents SRH needs during COVID-19. 

As the year went on, we also saw the incredible innovation of the community of practice in action, as organizations pivoted to doing design research remotely, finding ways to still deliver critical SRH care during lockdowns, and continuing to share best practices with the field. 

At the HCDExchange, we took the opportunity to work with you to create the foundations for our strategic thinking for how we will advance learning and evidence generation in HCD+ASRH. We’re particularly proud of the work we co-created with you in 2020. Here’s what we accomplished together so far :

  • We co-created a community strategy with you to define a roadmap for how we will serve the HCD+ASRH community and advance the work you are already doing. (Read the community strategy).
  • We developed our learning agenda which outlines our approach to driving learning and building an evidence base for the HCD+ASRH field.
  • We hosted our first annual convening on International Youth Day where we connected the entire HCDExchange community of practice for a daylong programme. (Read the youth day summary report).
  • We engaged with you through a series of webinars, community calls and events covering the opportunities and challenges of integrating design in ASRH. (Watch our past webinars on our YouTube channel).
  • We launched the HCDExchange design fellowships which enable talented designers to work on ASRH challenges within implementing organizations that are part of our community of practice. Our first cohort of fellows will be announced in the coming weeks on our social media platforms.  

In 2021, we have started off particularly energised to build on the momentum, solidarity and strategic alignment that we built in 2020. We will work with you all as we did last year, with a particular focus on advancing learning and evidence for the HCD+ASRH field. We invite you to become a member so you can stay up to date on ways to engage with us.

We’ll be sharing many ways you can participate throughout the year, whether it’s advancing the HCD+ASRH learning agenda through joining a working group, joining a community call, becoming or hosting a design fellow, or contributing to the development of learning assets. 

We hope that you stay connected, and that we as the HCD+ASRH can collectively build on what we learned from 2021 to adapt and improve our work. 

With Best Wishes, 

MaqC Eric Gitau

Director, HCDExchange.