Bridging the Gaps Sex Work Kenya KESWA

Bridging the Gaps Sex Work Kenya KESWA


KESWA (Kenya Sex Work Alliance) empowers new sex work groups in Kenya and trains them on organisational development and human rights. KESWA coordinates community led responses in case of violence. Activities include paralegal training for sex workers, operation of a helpline and strengthening of relationships with potential allies, including sensitisation of the media. KESWA advocates for decriminalisation, monitors human right violations and follows up on court cases. KESWA will analyse HIV and human rights programming policies and guidelines of the government. Key facts will be presented to sex workers to support their advocacy efforts. KESWA also conducts SWIT (a United Nations level guide on effective HIV and STI programming for sex workers) implementation workshops for sex worker-led organisations and government representatives.

Project details

Time frame
01 July 2016 - 31 December 2020
€ 309,157
Active in

Nairobi & 10 counties

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Partners under the Bridging the Gaps programme aim to end AIDS among key populations. If civil society is strengthened, if fulfilment of human rights for key populations is increased and if sexual and reproductive health is improved and HIV transmission reduced, governments will be hold to account and AIDS among key populations can end. Specific outcomes of KESWA include strong emergency response mechanisms, increased access to legal support and increased understanding and awareness of the general public on sex workers’ health and rights.

Community groups

30 sex worker-led organizations will be reached. 25 different stakeholders from various organisations will be involved in advocacy activities, 250 county members divided over 10 counties, 150 members of county assemblies will be reached with lobby and advocacy. 5 sex workers will participate in the National Technical Working Group Meetings to support sex workers' access to health and rights.


Kenyan sex workers deal with a lot of violence, stigma and discrimination. There is limited data about sex workers lives and health. Sex workers have trouble accessing their rights and health services within the current political and religious climate. Despite Kenya’s strong political commitment to the overall HIV response, there is little progress in decriminalisation of sex work and there is limited funding for HIV work.

1 in 4 sex workers experience physical or sexual violence and 44% of sex workers are affected by arrests, intimidation, and physical violence perpetrated by police. HIV prevalence in Kenya’s counties range from 2% to 26%, with 80% of the national HIV burden concentrated in 20 out of 47 counties. A lot of sex workers live with HIV: among female sex workers the HIV prevalence is 29% and for male sex workers HIV prevalence is 26.3%.

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