Heard of the phrase “human-centred design”? Human Centred Design, also known in short as HCD, is an approach to problem solving that focuses on understanding the needs, motivations, and aspirations of people to inform the design of potential solutions.  With empathy as its organising principle, HCD uses a creative and participatory process to generate ideas, develop them into prototypes for testing, and iterate on the result until a solution that best serves the needs of the target users is achieve(Rimjim, HCD Consultant at HCD Exchange). 


Screenshot 2022 10 17 at 18.22.21Prior to joining  HCD Exchange in 2022 I had some level of understanding of HCD. Notably, in 2020, I participated as an interpreter on a Y-Labs project that engaged girls on SRH, specifically  youth friendly clinics.  Although there are many  HCD methods and tools such as Journey Maps, Role play,Storyboard, card sort just to mention a few. One of the tools used by Y-Labs during the session was Card sort through a focused group discussion.


I was previously unaware that card sorting  was one of the HCD tools, but I thought it was a unique method to involve the youth,especially because it enables the facilitators to include images associated with the particular topics covered during the session. Interesting, I said to myself.

 I didn’t have the opportunity to inquire further about their decision to employ that strategy because I was so ecstatic to have witnessed something novel—that was the twist—that I missed the opportunity.

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After a rigorous selection procedure, I was given the uncommon opportunity to join HCD Exchange in 2022. I’ll elaborate on that later, but for now, let’s focus on how it affected my life.

When I joined HCD Exchange, I gained a lot of knowledge about how Human Centered Design can be applied to adolescent sexual and reproductive rights.That was when I understood the different HCD  tools better including the one used by Y-Labs.

You’ll notice that HCD makes it easier and more possible to understand the needs of persons we design  programmes for as development workers and  advocates.


As a young advocate with Africa free of New HIV infections( AfNHi), I had the opportunity to give a presentation where I introduced HCD to other advocates working on SRH. I briefly discussed the definition, tools, and ways they can integrate it in their work.

Screenshot 2022 10 17 at 18.22.41As a result, my project, SRH Day out, targeted the Shai Osuduko community. Using HCD, we assessed their needs and determined that they required not only reproductive health information but also education support in the form of stationeries. Using the  AfNHi youth mentorship project support, my team and I provided a comprehensive  response to their needs during the project’s implementation;through SRHR  information sharing, provision of stationeries for students, career guidance and mentorship. This way, the people of Shai Osuduko, chiefly, the young people’s needs would be met.

With the use of HCD,advocates are well versed about the various tools available to identify the needs of their target, build solutions that are targeted, and share best practices when necessary. The next time you think of designing any program or solution for SRH, think of HCD to help you in the process.

This is my HCD usage experience; to learn more about HCD, see the HCD Exchange community or the AfNHi social media pages.


Victoria Quaynor- Ghana (AfNHi youth mentorship cohort member )

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