Photo credit: Mick Webb

Access to comprehensive health services and a supportive and enabling legal environment. These were among the shared priorities set by communities of sex workers, LGBT people and people who use drugs during a two-day Bridging the Gaps workshop which took place at the end of March in Nairobi. The aim of the workshop was to jointly develop a theory of change for a rights-based HIV and SRHR response that is specific to the context in Kenya. This workshop was the first in a series of workshops that are part of the community-driven strategic design of a new phase of Bridging the Gaps (2016-2020). Similar workshops are planned for Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal and Myanmar.

I realise now that the problems we share are common.

Theory of change: towards a rights-based HIV and SRHR response

The Bridging the Gaps alliance hosts a diverse group of organisations and our shared theory of change captures our joint ambitions and plans as well as our shared commitment to achieve three long-term goals:

  • A strengthened civil society that holds governments to account;
  • An increased fulfilment of the human rights of key populations; and
  • Improved sexual and reproductive health and rights and fewer HIV transmissions

During the pilot workshop in Kenya, over 50 participants jointly identified the necessary steps towards achieving these goals, taking into consideration the context of their country, the capacities of their organisations and the opportunities for collaboration. There were vibrant and fruitful discussion between national CSOs and networks (including the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Kenyan Network of People Who Use Drugs, and the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance) who worked together with Bridging the Gaps Alliance partners Aidsfonds, COC, INPUD, MSMGF and NSWP.

We experience the same legal issues, which made it easy for us to come up with what we want.

Priorities for key populations in Kenya – A vision for 2020

While access to comprehensive health services and a supportive legal environment were clear shared priorities for the three groups, the participants also identified priorities specific to each community:

  • Sex workers in Kenya will stand strongly together and advocate for decriminalisation and the ability to work safely, free from violence;
  • LGBT persons will prioritise partnerships between civil society organisations, to see human rights and health issues addressed and sensitised health care workers and police;
  • People who use drugs will focus on equal access to harm reduction and health services, as well as establishing an enabling policy justice environment where people who use drugs can have a strong voice.

During the final session, several key stakeholders in Kenya – WHO, LINKAGES, UNAIDS, and a representative of the Embassy of the Netherlands – joined the workshop to learn more about the programme and to see a snapshot of the work conducted over the two days.

Click here for more information on the inception phase of Bridging the Gaps 2016-2020.

Text by Julie McBride, Aidsfonds

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