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In October 2011, UNFPA, UNAIDS, SFH and a number of Namibian sex worker organizations conducted a series of rapid assessments on sex work and HIV in five towns in Namibia. The aims of the rapid assessment project were to engage sex workers in assessing barriers to HIV prevention and treatment and proposing relevant solutions in five towns in Namibia; to build the capacity of sex worker leaders and organizations at national and local levels; and to demonstrate good practice in community participation and empowerment approaches.

The 17 sex workers trained to conduct the assessments in Kalkrand, Katima Mulilo, Oshikango, Walvis Bay and Windhoek conducted 29 focus group discussions with a total of 212 sex workers participating. A number of issues were raised in most or all of the towns, including stigma from health care providers and  the community, a preference for traditional medicine, violence from a number of sources, extortion and abuse from police officers.

Based on the findings and the lessons from the process, a number of recommendations are offered to relevant
ministries, NGOs, UN agencies and donors, as follows:

  • Use the findings of the rapid assessments to address issues identified in each town.
  • Enable continued assessment processes in the five towns covered by this report.
  • Support sex worker organising in the five towns.
  • Replicate the process in other parts of Namibia.
  • Particular attention should be paid to towns where there are no planned programmes.
  • Use the findings of the rapid assessments to raise awareness and advocate for national level action.