African Sex Workers Trained as Regional Community Experts on the Global Fund

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In a three-day intensive training, African sex workers were trained as Regional Community Experts for the Global Fund.

The technical assistance training for regional sex workers experts included sex workers from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the ASWA Regional Secretariat. Sex workers learned the skills and knowledge that they will use to train sex workers in other countries on the Global Fund and its processes.

The workshop was designed to enable the Regional Community Experts to share knowledge and information about the Global Fund to other sex workers so they can engage the Global Fund in country.

The training, run by Mick Matthews, Senior Programme Officer with NSWP, is an extension of previous capacity-building workshops on the Global Fund for sex workers, targeting 14 Anglophone, and Francophone countries – Botswana, Togo, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, Kenya, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe – that were coordinated by the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA).

“This is the first stage in a two part process to follow up on the previous ASWA workshops. Those trained had attended either of the previous ASWA Global fund trainings, and this is a build-up to that,” he said.

So far, 42 African sex workers have been trained on understanding the Global Fund, and its processes, and how sex worker communities can engage in and ensure accountability from the Global Fund.

The workshops showed how the Global Fund works. More importantly, it showed how key populations understand and engage with the Global Fund more effectively.

The Global Fund has committed to ensuring key populations communities’ involvement in countries since HIV disproportionately affects them, and they are often not included in country concept notes development. Most key population groups have also raised concerns over the New Funding Model.

Furthermore, with the New Funding Model, the Communities Delegation has repeatedly highlighted how key populations communities are not engaged in country dialogues, and the grant making processes.

“The five areas that we specifically worked on,” Matthews continued, “included the concept note development, national processes, as well as country dialogues, transition funding, the Global Fund replenishments, and technical assistance.” The second stage of this process will be ongoing virtual support till the end of 2016, he added.

Aime-Nshombo, Executive Director of UMANDE, a sex worker-led organisation from Congo, said the training was crucial as she now has in-depth information that she hopes she will share in her trainings for Francophone sex workers.

“The workshop was an eye-opener since we will be able to engage effectively with the Global Fund national processes and better our participation,” she said, “by training other sex workers, we can ensure they in turn, are involved in all Global Fund processes in their own countries."

ASWA’s Regional Coordinator, Daughtie Ogutu welcomed the training saying ASWA is taking leadership in building a pool of sex workers who are regional community experts on the Global Fund.  

“The workshop has been instrumental in increasing the knowledge and capacity amongst African sex workers in the Global Fund and its systems to become regional community experts for the sex worker community.”

Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA)’s National Coordinator, Phelister Abdalla, echoed similar sentiments saying the training would be crucial in addressing some of the concerns that sex workers in countries, have regarding the Global Fund process and meaningful participation of sex workers but also how sex worker-led groups can access Global Fund grants.

“Often understanding the Global Fund is difficult, and very technical; how the training has been organised, and how we will train others, is in such a way that sex workers will be better informed, and better prepared to engage with the processes of Global Fund in their countries.”