Accessing Sexual Reproductive Health Rights in Kilimanjaro

In January 2017, our CEO José Sluijs-Doyle spent three days working with our partner staff at the Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF) to develop the first draft of a project aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of hard-to-reach groups such as female sex workers. After many discussions and proposal revisions, this week José and our Programme Officer Becky Mallows had the pleasure of visiting TAWREF to discuss how we can jointly implement this project having recently been awarded a £250,000 grant by UK Aid Direct.

Project Overview

The project is called Shirikisha Wote meaning ‘All together.’ It will specifically benefit adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), female sex workers (FSW) including people living with HIV (PLHIV) and people with disabilities (PWD).

This is a targeted outreach project that works through Peer Educators – the agents of change – and partners with government service providers and community leaders. Key stakeholders including peer educators, representatives from the Regional AIDS Control Council and AIDS Commission and village, ward and district level representatives attended the launch workshop on Tuesday 26th June.

All participants presented their role in contributing to the success of this project. These commitments will be formalised through developing Memoranda of Understandings with the relevant government departments and reviewed on an annual basis through Annual Review workshops.

Peer Education and Services

Peer Educators play a key role in implementing this project. Following intensive training, they go to the villages in pairs to identify AGYW, FSW, PLHIV and PWD with the support from village leaders, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and through word of mouth. They also visit “hot-spots” such as the cattle market, flower plantations and markets where men gather and seek the services of sex workers so they can target both FSW and partners of FSW. Peer Educators then provide peer training over a number of sessions so that the key beneficiaries are well informed about important issues such as HIV prevention, family planning, what HIV testing could do for them and who to report Gender Based Violence to. Peer Educators also accompany the key beneficiaries to these services.

This project also provides mobile STI and voluntary HIV counselling and testing (VCT) services as well as referral to dispensaries if treatment is necessary. Only 4% of the 126 women and girls interviewed report to always use a condom whilst 47% of women state they have had no access to information regarding STIs and HIV.