Communities in Kyrgyzstan Explore their Needs for the First Time

Community research provides an opportunity to objectively assess the existing services. Focus group in the office of Ulukman Dariger NGO in Issyk-Kul area

Author: Olga Ochneva, Kyrgyzstan

Sex workers over the age of 30 desperately need employment; women living with HIV have a need for women’s dormitories – these are the preliminary conclusions of two different studies conducted in Kyrgyzstan. The complete results of the needs’ assessment and HIV prevention programs in the country will be presented at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). The research is conducted by these communities for the first time. AFEW International provided this opportunity for key populations in Kyrgyzstan and other countries of East Europe and Central Asia (EECA) within the Small Grants Program.

New and unexpected discoveries

International AIDS Conference is a platform for the community to express their voices. Currently, community organizations from the EECA countries supported by AFEW International are carrying out the research, the results of which will be presented at the International AIDS Conference in July 2018 in Amsterdam. There are two research teams in Kyrgyzstan.

“Our organization has wanted to conduct a similar assessment for a long time. This is the first full-scale study among sex workers in the country,” Ulan Tursunbayev, the director of Ulukman Dariger NGO says. His organization assesses the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention program with the help of the sex-workers themselves. “The preparation of the research and data collection took us four months. We traveled the country – four people, two of which being consultants. First, we tested our questions in mini sessions, so that they were clear to the community members and could open them up for the dialog.”

Another organization from Kyrgyzstan – PF Prosvet – conducts research work among women living with HIV. They study the impact of HIV-positive status on women’s lives.

“Community representatives are the main executors of the project,” Margarita Sabirova, a psychologist at Prosvet is saying. AFEW International has provided all training opportunities: trainings, online modules, technical expert support. Community education has become one of the most important and long-lasting pre-research phases. Nowadays, they possess new knowledge and skills, and we have honest and frank research data.”

Data mining has been conducted since April, and the final reports are being currently prepared. It has already become clear that the research contains new and unexpected discoveries.

“It was really interesting to see how the needs of sex workers differ before and after they turn 30,” Ulan Tusunbaev says. “They even sat apart from each other during the focus group meetings. Young women said they had enough condom supplies from prevention projects, outreach work and legal assistance. Older sex workers wanted to change the area of work and asked for the assistance with this.”

Many said that they rather would not provide sex services for the rest of their lives, and wanted to start building their future then.

“In course of my work, I was able to buy some land where I am starting to build a house, and where I will then open a store. I have already prepared the materials for construction,” says one of the interviewees of the research. “I hope this store will help me and my child when I will no longer do sex-work. Therefore, it is good to have some skills training programs available. After all, we have all been working here for 5-8 years and have no education. In order to engage in something different, we would need additional skills.”

The South and North have different needs

Women with HIV: “We need special support.” The head of Public Foundation Prosvet conducts a focus group in Bishkek

Employment is also one of the most important problems for women living with HIV. According to the representative of PF Prosvet, women say that many of them have no spouses and thus they need to take care about their own financial well-being. Some of them are the only ones who financially support their children. Employers often unreasonably demand HIV and medical examination and refuse employment.

“Thanks to the research, we are sure now that the services need to be divided according to the needs of a certain group,” Margarita Sabirova shares. “We have not only identified the priority needs, but also clearly noticed the difference in the set services needed in the North and South of the country. For instance, people in the South need social support, while people in the North of the country are more socialized clients who have different needs.”

The next phase in the Small Grant Program by AFEW International is the training on how to write abstracts (thesis) for organizations in preparation for AIDS 2018 and teaching them how to present their research results.

“The lack of gender approaches in the provision of services and the specifics of different areas of the country often limit access to the health care, legal, social, and psychological support. We hope that the presentation on the results of our study during AIDS2018 will encourage participants from other countries to pay attention to this problem in their own part of the country,” Margarita Sabirova is saying. “The research has identified a number of specific service needs for women, which are not met now either fully or partially. We hope that funds will be available to finance this unmet need. We have many recommendations in our report, and these will help to improve existing services. In any case, as an organization, in whom the community trusts, we should express community needs to the government, donor and non-governmental organizations.”

Communities will be Educated how to Analyse Data and how to Act

Two new modules for the program community-based participant research CBPR [e] Education that is supporting and strengthening the research capacity of organizations acting on behalf of and representing the interests of communities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) are released online today.

The program consists of the number of activities, including training for community-based participatory research, small grants program, workshop on dissemination and abstract writing and workshop on presenting research findings on AIDS2018 Conference.

AFEW International gives program participants the opportunity to take part in online e-learning modules for further development of their research skills. The modules are also available for others who are interested in community-based participatory research. Course that costs 75 euros, includes 7 modules on the preparation and conduct of community-based participatory research.

The first module announced today is Data Analysis. Analyzing data is necessary to make sense of the outcomes of the study and to answer the research questions. Analyzing data will help working towards a way of representing the data to a larger public.

The second module is called Bringing about social change: translating knowledge into action. After the data is collected and analyzed, the participant is ready to write the reports and to disseminate the results to others. It is the time now to determine how the participant can bring social change that will benefit the community. The evaluation of the research will be also discussed in this module.

Later on, everyone will be able to participate in the webinar on data analysis, which will be held in late spring or summer of 2017.

Community-based Participatory Researches are Starting

IMG_114226 applications out of 44 were selected in the small grants programme to support community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects in Eastern Europe and Central-Asia (EECA) region. The small grants fund is part of a wider programme to build the research capacity of community based organisations in EECA region and increase meaningful participation of the region at the AIDS2018.  The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides financial support to the programme.

The supported applicants are from 10 countries of the EECA region: Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, and Uzbekistan. They represent the following target groups: people who use drugs, people who live with HIV, sex workers, HIV positive women, MSM, transgender people, prisoners, and LGBT.

The total grant fund for the proposals is €230,000. “Previously we announced that the fund was €120,000, but we managed to get more funding and that is how we can afford implementing more projects,” project manager Aids2018EECA in AFEW International Daria Alexeeva is saying.

The grant winners will soon start to implement their researches in their countries. It is expected to have the results of the CBPR in the fall of 2017.

AFEW Announces Online E-Learning Program

cbpr-engAFEW International is starting the program that is supporting and strengthening the research capacity of organizations acting on behalf of and representing the interests of communities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA.) The purpose of the program is to increase region’s participation in AIDS2018 conference in Amsterdam. The financial support is provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

The program consists of the number of activities, including training for community-based participatory research, small grants program, workshop on dissemination and abstract writing and workshop on presenting research findings on AIDS2018 Conference.

AFEW International gives program participants the opportunity to take part in online e-learning modules for further development of their research skills. The modules are also available for others who are interested in community-based participatory research. Course that costs 75 euros, includes 7 modules on the preparation and conduct of community-based participatory research.

In addition, everyone will be able to participate in the webinar on data analysis, which will be held in late spring or summer of 2017. These days, AFEW International is also working on preparation of workshop on dissemination and abstract writing for AIDS2018, which will be held in autumn of 2017. It is supposed to be available to a wider circle of people.

Online application for Community-Based Research training

The-main-square-of-Bishkek675AFEW (International) is organising a community-based research programme. The programme consists of several trainings and a small grants fund for community-based research projects. The programme is meant for communities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and is aimed to result in the submission of abstracts for the International AIDS Conference 2018, which will be held in Amsterdam.

Please find herewith the link for the application here. If you have more questions about the application, please email us at research@AFEW.nl.

The training will take place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 8, 9 and 10 November 2016. This training is the first step in a community-based research programme.

We are looking for motivated participants from the EECA region with a keen interest, some experience, and familiarity with community-based research. We foresee to invite two participants per organisation: one decision maker and one research implementer. The training is free of charge.

Following the training, you will be able to access online training modules to further shape your research skills. On a later level, training participants are expected to fill in an application form for the community-based research fund. This call will be released towards the end of 2016.

We are now accepting applications to attend the training. The deadline for application is Friday 9 September 2016.

Poster 200x150 1op10

Community-based research: the key population small grants fund AIDS2018

FB AIDS 2018 coverAs the HIV epidemic continues to grow in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new, more relevant, interventions are needed to address this public health concern. Before such interventions can be implemented, the needs of certain communities at higher risk for HIV, TB and Viral Hepatitis need to be understood. Involving members of key population communities in research gives an opportunity to identify needs that are currently not being met. Community based research captures the actual situation on the ground more clearly and such research can be used as a powerful advocacy tool. By equipping community based organisations and community members with the tools to conduct research and collect data, research capacity will increase, and research results will reflect an inside perspective on needs and priorities.

Fund for community based research

Towards the end of 2016, AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) will release a call for proposals for community-based organizations to conduct research to benefit key populations living in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). The proposals will be assessed by a steering committee. Activities proposed by grantees must contribute knowledge to improving the health of key population groups in EECA. The grantee must be a legally recognized community-based organization registered and operating in EECA. All awarded projects should be completed within 9 months.

Training and Guidance

Training and guidance on how to conduct the community-based research, write abstracts, and present and disseminate findings, will be provided to the grantees. We will be looking for participants with a keen interest, some experience, and familiarity with community based research. A first training, Tools for Change: conducting community based research, is being planned for October/November 2016, followed by a call for proposals, selection, and grant awards.

Monitoring

The awarded research projects will receive guidance and support from the AIDS2018 project team, with some logistical support provided by the AFEW secretariat.  The research report and other relevant materials will be shared via the websites of relevant parties (AFEW, GNP+, EHRN, and others), in other briefings, newsletters, and at meetings and workshops. We anticipate that you submit an abstract to AIDS2018, with the aim of presenting a poster, or an oral presentation.

If you would like to know more about, or be considered for, this unique opportunity to gather knowledge and raise the voice of key populations in research, and at AIDS2018, send us an email at research@AFEW.nl. We will send you the application form on request. Please feel free to get in touch with us with questions or remarks. AFEW is looking forward to implementing this project, with and for you!