View ACTED Base map in a larger map
Improving the sexual health of most at-risk populations through education - In 1998, Cambodia had a HIV prevalence rate of 2.1%, the highest in South-East Asia. Since that time, rigorous national prevention programs have been behind a significant decline in prevalence, with the general infection rate in 2010 standing at only 0.8%. Despite this success HIV remains highly concentrated within certain at-risk groups (sex workers, injecting drug-users, etc). In order to contain the spread of HIV and negate the risk of a second wave of new infections, ACTED-PSF has focused on providing education and access to healthcare for most at-risk populations since 1995.
HIV/AIDS prevention among most at-risk populations
In 2011, ACTED-PSF continued to work in HIV prevention, focusing on a multidimensional approach that provided HIV consultations, confidential counselling and sexual health education sessions to women working as entertainment or sex workers and to their male clients. With the HIV prevalence among sex workers in 2010 being as high as 14%, targeting this population is critical to preserving the low infection rate among the wider Cambodian population. Our outreach educators and medical staff worked in over 200 entertainment establishments and our activities continued to enjoy strong support from government, owners of entertainment establishments and the women themselves. Over 35,000 education sessions on sexual health were delivered to sex and entertainment workers, with a further 34,000 education sessions on similar topics delivered to male clients. These positive messages were tangibly reinforced by the distribution of sexual health products, primarily the handing out of more than 140,000 condoms during the past year. Our SMARTgirl Club, a place where beneficiaries can come to relax, socialise with peers and learn about sexual and reproductive health in a non-threatening environment enjoyed sustained popularity, with Club membership growing to 1,286.
Looking beyond health
In the second half of 2011, ACTED-PSF focused on diversifying its activities by exploring other needs. Our outreach staff surveyed nearly 300 entertainment workers in July to identify non-health related challenges facing beneficiaries. The data obtained will prove invaluable in designing interventions that directly respond to the most-pressing needs of women working in the country’s entertainment industry. Following flooding in late 2011 that affected as many as 350,000 households across the country, ACTED-PSF began to explore possibilities to provide emergency relief to worst affected communities, participating in numerous response coordination meeting with several multilateral donors and sending a small team to conduct a rapid needs assessment in Kandal, the province surrounding the nation’s capital. Land rights also firmed as a major issue, with increasing numbers of commercial developments nationwide putting as many as 150,000 people at risk of forced eviction. Currently, evictees face routine relocation far from their former homes, removing them from work and local support networks, pushing already vulnerable families into poverty and despair.
Prospects for 2012
In 2012, ACTED-PSF will continue to work with populations most at-risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. However, the scope of current activities will be broadened in the coming year, with an expanded focus on reproductive health as a whole, as well as maternal and child health. In response to the results of our surveying, projects will be developed that focus on reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence against entertainment and sex workers and providing women who wish to leave these industries with access to alternative income-generating opportunities. Along with the other Alliance2015 members, ACTED-PSF plans to publicise the negative impacts of ongoing land disputes, advocating for intervention by international governments and donors, while also supporting displaced populations. A project to improve water and sanitation infrastructure for 600 households relocated 40 kilometres outside of Phnom Penh is already planned. Drawing on ACTED’s global experience, 2012 will see ACTED-PSF make a strategic shift to become increasingly active in the organisation’s traditional fields of expertise – water and sanitation and food security – to assist the early recovery of communities affected by flooding. We will also focus on strengthening our relationship with ACTED’s other regional offices, seeking to work on multi-country initiatives wherever possible.
Partners in 2011
Global Fund, United States Agency for International Development (USAID).