WeBelongAfrica - The Southern Africa Young Key Populations Inclusion Initiative


The project aims to support young vulnerable people to improve their quality of life, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. It also enhances a strong sense of agency, freedom and safety for Young Key Populations (YKPs) to make choices within an enabling environment at local, national and regional levels. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Mozambique funds the project through UNDP's support.  The WeBelongAfrica Initiative is implemented in Angola, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional level. 


Eswatini is one of the countries making significant progress in reducing access to treatment and lowering HIV infection. Data from UNAIDS indicates that 93.7% of adults (aged 15 years and older) living with HIV were aware of their HIV-positive status and, of these, 97.3% were on anti-retroviral treatment. Nevertheless, HIV prevalence in the country remains one of the highest globally at 27%. While the data on HIV prevalence among key population groups is limited, the available data indicates that in 2020 HIV prevalence among sex workers stood at 60.2 % while HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men was 27.6 %.

Eswatini has shown specific commitments to a rights-based response to managing the HIV epidemic. For instance, this is seen through the development and implementation of a multi-sectoral national HIV strategy based on human rights and gender equality, rights-based HIV policies and the development of programmes of prevention, treatment, care, and support for a range of populations. However, a UNDP-supported Legal Environment Assessment (2014) also indicated that there are several challenges in the legal and regulatory framework which create barriers to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support. For example, the legislative and policy framework is not sufficiently protective. Even where protective laws exist, they are not adequately implemented and enforced, allowing stigma, discrimination, and gender inequality to continue. 

It is against this background that this project is implemented. 

Major Achievements

  • An advocacy and communications strategy aimed at fostering inclusivity and transformation has been developed. The strategy focuses on amplifying the voices of these populations to policymakers and decision-makers to advocate for policy reforms. 
  • 3,000 young people were reached with key messages to help create an enabling environment for YKPs.
  • 40 senior public prosecutors in Eswatini underwent training on key populations and Gender-Based Violence principles, enhancing their understanding of key issues in prosecution. 
  • 22 staff members of the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) underwent training on good governance and human rights. The aim was to enhance the council's operational effectiveness in fulfilling its coordination duties.

Project Outcomes 

The project aims to:

  • Increase the number of decision-makers who understand and support the rights and perspectives of young key populations to promote equitable SRHR and HIV outcomes. 
  • Increase inclusion, participation, representation and influence of young key populations and their allies, in discussions, debates and decision-making about relevant laws, policies and strategies.
  • Develop relevant national-level plans, strategies and guidelines related to HIV and SRHR increasingly reflect countries’ international human rights and public health commitments.

For more information about this project, please contact UNDP Governance Specialist, Linda Nxumalo at linda.nxumalo@undp.org