Key populations: Lost in the data desert

Along_the_rail_road_-_Iran_-_Shahroud_-_panoramioI’m writing a book on the politics of data for key populations, and it’s led me to think about “data deserts” – areas where no data is produced, so no programs or social services are provided.

It’s a particular problem for key populations (sex workers, men who have sex with men [MSM], people who inject drugs, trans* people and prisoners) in low-income countries. But surprisingly, it’s a problem for countries with higher income too.

Out of the 58 countries that the World Bank classifies as upper-middle income:

  • 17 countries had NO official HIV prevalence data for ANY key population group
  • 8 countries have HIV prevalence data for only ONE key population, but not the others

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A taste of Mexico City

IMG_3402I recently, unexpectedly found myself living in Mexico City for ten spring days. I found it has a hot art scene, independent bilingual bookstores, lovely leafy neighborhoods with old colonial architecture, and world-class food. As soon as you sit down at most restaurants, the chef sends out homemade hot sauces and tortillas. Then you sit back and enjoy the ride. Some of the best meals I scarfed down were at:

Pasillo de Humo– On the second floor of a food hall in colonial Condesa, this modern, airy restaurant specializes in Oaxacan food, including fiery, earthy moles. I went there on my first day, a Monday, and was impressed by the family that had a full mezcal bar wheeled out to their table. At lunch. Continue reading

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Remembering Riyadh

Sky bridge pano, Kingdom Center

Sky Bridge, Kingdom Center in downtown Riyadh © Davis 2018

In February, I gave a talk about the course I teach on sexual violence at the first Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum. I’ve been remembering that trip since learning of the recent arrest of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

 

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What works to respond to sexual violence?

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Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Photo: FCO

The new special issue of Global Health Governance has several articles that chart the gaps in human rights and global health governance. I co-authored this one, with Doris Schopper and Julia Epps, on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) indicators used by humanitarian organizations to track interventions that respond to sexual violence in conflict settings. We compared indicators used by leading humanitarian organizations for programs that provide medical care, mental health care/psychosocial support, and legal aid to survivors. Continue reading

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Changes to the Global Fund Eligibility Policy: An overview

Lorrie Graham Assignment for Ausaid China 2006

Harm reduction outreach in China. Photo: Lorrie Graham/AusAID

On May 9-10, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria will meet in Skopje, Macedonia to approve a new policy on which countries are eligible for funding.

I’ve been immersed in this labyrinthine policy as a consultant for the three civil society delegations on the board of the Fund: Developing Country NGO Delegation, Developed Country NGO Delegation and Communities Delegation. They came together to press for an overhaul of the policy. For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen.

But there has been some progress; there are some big questions for civil society to weigh in on before May, and some critical areas to monitor if the current version is approved.  Here’s an overview: heads up, it’s a long blog.

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Posted in Aid accountability, Harm reduction, Health finance, HIV/AIDS | 5 Comments

Impact of closing civic space on HIV in East Africa

Restrictions on registration, financing, and operations of civil society organizations go beyond reasonable limits recognized in human rights law and create a chilling climate for organizations working on HIV response in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. That’s the finding of a new report by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). I was proud to be part of the international writing team for the report, with lawyers and advocates from all three countries and from UNAIDS.

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Sexual Violence in Conflict Settings and Emergencies – 2018 courses

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Mogi Wokorach, Refugee Law Project

I’m pleased to share the 2018 dates for Geneva Center for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH)’s much-in-demand short courses on sexual violence in conflicts and emergencies. I coordinate the courses, with speakers from the Red Cross, Médécins Sans Frontières, UN and more.

Combining cutting-edge research and practical experience from experts in the field, the course is tailored to emergency program managers, and one of the few courses to address male and female survivors of sexual violence. Participants in the Uganda session meet with activists from the Refugee Law Project to hear about their experiences first-hand.

  • March 19-23, 2018, in Geneva
  • September 10-14, in Geneva
  • November 25-30, in Uganda

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African Commission launches HIV and human rights report

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In a side meeting at the recent ICASA conference in Abidjan, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights launched its report, HIV, the Law and Human Rights in the African Human Rights System: Key Challenges and Opportunities for Rights-Based Responses. An early version of the report is online here. (to be updated when the final is posted online.)

Led by Commissioner Soyata Maiga, chairperson of the African Commission, the process brought together African human rights experts, civil society groups, and UN and other legal experts to review the extent to which African human rights systems address HIV-related human rights violations.  Continue reading

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Gay men’s networking zone vandalized at ICASA 2017

Activists describe “closing civic space” at African AIDS meeting – but also energy and inspiration to continue the fight

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Civil society protest at Saturday plenary, ICASA 2017. Photo: Allan Maleche

A networking zone for men who have sex with men (MSM) at the African regional AIDS conference was vandalized Thursday night, with posters torn down and boxes stolen. The International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 4-9 December 2017. Despite numerous logistical problems and what some activists called “shrinking civic space”, civil society presence was strong and energetic throughout.

“We packed everything together neatly and covered it with a banner the night before,” in the MSM networking zone, said Delane Kalembo of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), which coordinated the zone. “When we arrived at eight the next morning, the stand that we used had been pulled out, material we had posted had been ripped off, two boxes of materials were stolen, and chairs were all over the show. It looks like our booth was targeted.” The vandalism was one of several incidents raised by civil society groups, who described “closing space” for communities at ICASA.

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Event: Inequalities in the Sustainable Development Goals

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted two years ago, making it an opportune time for a first stocktaking. The SDGs make the central promise to Leave No One Behind and include a dedicated goal to reduce inequalities. Human rights advocates have put great hopes in the SDGs as an instrument for transformative change. But do they bring about the much-needed paradigm shift? Or were the extensive consultations and negotiations much ado about nothing?

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