Category 1: Assessment
What is assessment and why is it necessary?
Assessments are useful to obtain basic information about sex work settings and their social and legal context in order to guide the design and implementation of interventions. In addition, conducting an assessment engages key actors and groups involved in sex work settings. By learning about their perceived needs, attitudes, priorities and roles, more responsive interventions can be planned and developed. The goal is practical information in simple language understandable to a wide range of interested parties.
Rapid assessments or needs assessments, collect basic essential information over a short period, often using participatory methods, and enable an intervention to start quickly. A more detailed gathering of information, termed situation analysis or situation assessment, is undertaken when a rapid assessment indicates this to be necessary.
Who should be involved?
Before going into a sex work setting it is a good idea to consult with and obtain the cooperation of local authorities, the police or other influential stakeholders. While planning an assessment it is useful to identify and talk with local people who can act as key informants. These are influential or especially knowledgeable persons who can provide invaluable information and advice as well as facilitate access to different groups.
Where possible, try to include in the assessment all groups directly or indirectly involved in sex work settings. This helps to build a detailed and holistic understanding of the various factors that may affect HIV transmission, care and support, and the implementation of interventions. A small representative number of people from each group is sufficient for an initial assessment.
Try to involve sex workers, other stakeholders and potential project partners in planning and conducting the assessment. This helps to build local relationships and capacity and to ensure that the methods used are appropriate and that the information obtained reflects the actual situation.