Bridging the Gaps focuses on improving the health and realising the rights of sex workers, people who use drugs, and LGBT people. To capture lessons learnt from this promising programme, operational research is currently (2014-2015) being conducted in five of the sixteen programme countries: Costa Rica, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, and Kenya. The main objective is to provide implementing partners and in-country partners with evidence that they can use to improve the programme quality and efficiency. How can outreach workers better reach the hard to reach? What are effective strategies to influence policies? These are some of the research questions that were selected during in-country workshops with local partners and stakeholders.

Operational research will help us better evaluate the results of our efforts and advocate the rights of key populations for free access to services

Anastasiya Shebardina, Research Coordinator, AFEW Ukraine.

In 2014 important steps were made to start the operational research: local research teams were selected, a workshop in Amsterdam was organised to prepare the research teams to set up and realise the local research process, and the research teams held in-country workshops to collect input from relevant partners, key population representatives, and other stakeholders. The aim was to jointly determine the research focus: What are the issues we need to learn more about in order to increase the impact on the lives of key populations?

Research questions

This participatory process resulted in the following research questions for each of the five selected countries.

  • Costa Rica: What have been the main effects of CIPAC’s advocacy activities in the period 2010–2014 on access and accessibility to the rights and opportunities of the LGBT population?
  • Ukraine: How can we best reach and increase adherence to hiv prevention programmes amongst young people who use drugs?
  • Kyrgyzstan: Which factors influence the motivation of community members for joining and adhering to the preventive programmes and harm reduction programmes carried out in the cities Bishkek and Osh?
  • Vietnam: What are effective strategies to reach sex workers? Have new programmes created in the aftermath of the closure of sex worker rehabilitation centres changed the lives of sex workers. In what way?
  • Kenya: What are success factors and obstacles for reaching key populations in Kenya?

The researchers will mainly use qualitative methods. Most research teams will analyse existing reports and data from ongoing monitoring and evaluation. In addition, key informant interviews, group discussions, and in-depth interviews with clients from the target groups will be held. All research teams will collect their data between the end of 2014 and mid-2015, and findings will be shared late 2015.

Know the reasons and factors

The research team in Kyrgyzstan consists of Dinara Madybaeva, M&E specialist AFEW (Coordinator Research) and David Yanchinov (Researcher). They stated: ‘Bridging the Gaps is one of the leading prevention programmes in the country. But, unfortunately, as behavioural and epidemiological studies have shown, the epidemiological situation of HIV/AIDS among key populations still remains tense in the country. New representatives of communities are reluctant to enter and stay in programmes. It is important to know the reasons and factors.’

Click here to read more about our Operational Research work.

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