|Programme area||Capacity Strengthening|
|Partner||United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) | Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) | USAID-funded Health Policy Project (HPP)|
In the face of these hostile conditions, advocacy organisations are working alongside MSM communities to support men who have sex with men through free HIV and STI testing, psycho-social support groups, and HIV care and treatment programmes. They are also working to address policy barriers at the regional, national, and sub national levels. These barriers range from the national laws that criminalise same-sex behaviours to policies that guide the operation of local health clinics. Addressing these barriers and advocating for policy change alongside impacted communities is the only way to achieve meaningful and lasting change and to ensure that MSM’s rights are respected and that they have access to the healthcare and HIV-related services they need.
The partnership implemented a regional project in seven countries(Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Togo, Cameroon and Mozambique), throughout sub-Saharan Africa to increase access to healthcare and HIV-related services among men who have sex with men (MSM) through policy advocacy named UTETEZI (meaning advocacy in Swahili), the project focused on partnerships to maximize resources for advocacy purposes, coordinate advocacy strategies, and harmonise advocacy activities with aims to
- To increase capacity for LGBT/MSM-focused advocacy at municipality, national, and regional levels.
- To develop and sustain relationship between key (city and national) government and civil society stakeholders for improved access to HIV and HIV-related social services for MSM and LGBT people.
- To increase knowledge dissemination on MSM/LGBT health and rights programming.
Some of the major activities achieved were:
- Training of key government and civil society stakeholders such as City Council Health Units, law enforcement officials, NHRI, NACs, Departments of Justice and Health, and LGBT/MSM organizations.
- Facilitate the establishment and governance of an Advocacy Working Group for MSM and HIV in each of the 7 countries, and the development and implementation of targeted advocacy activities.
- Mentorship of MSM/LGBT organizations at country level to sustain the engagement of other stakeholders in the project.
- Mentoring MSM/LGBT organizations to sustain participation and work with municipal, national and regional bodies to ensure increased support for access to services.
- Researching, writing and publishing best practices on LGBT and MSM interventions in Africa.
Based on the UTETEZI Project curriculum, Advocacy for Improved Access to Services for MSM: A Workshop Curriculum for a Multi-Stakeholder Policy Advocacy Project, this advocacy for policy change guide is designed for use by MSM groups, community-based organisations (CBOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), and individuals working in HIV and MSM health to help them advocate regionally, nationally, and locally for improved HIV and health-related MSM policies. In particular, this guide can serve as an important tool for CSOs working on MSM issues in hostile legal environments.