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This article analyses in detail the impact and effectiveness of peer-education projects implemented in Cambodia under the Reproductive Health Initiative for Asia (RHI), in an attempt to provide important lessons for the design and implementation of such interventions and to contribute to the development of best practice. Under RHI, which was the first programme in Cambodia designed specifically to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people, peer education was implemented as if it were a directly transferable method, rather than a process to be rooted in specific social and political contexts. Consequently, peer-education concepts of empowerment and participation conflicted with hierarchical traditions and local power relations concerning gender and poverty; peer educators were trained to deliver messages developed by adults; and interventions were not designed to reflect the social dynamics of youth peer groups.

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