Groundbreaking IOM Study Reveals Migrants and Migrant Affected Communities Around the Port of Dar es Salaam Have Complex Sexual Networks

Date Published: 
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A groundbreaking study commissioned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the South African Development Community (SADC) and the support of Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) has revealed that key populations working around the Port have a higher risk to contracting HIV/AIDS and STIs due to the complexities of sexual networks within their environment.

“We have different types of clients here, foreigners from Rwanda, Congo and Zambia and Tanzanians of both sexes. Some of them come here with their partners” Says a respondent from the study. All the truck drivers interviewed during the qualitative study had established sexual relationships with partners at truck stops whom they considered as permanent or as second wives whom they call Mapoza.

The study was launched in partnership with the Tanzania Aids Commission on 22 September 2015 at the Protea Hotel Courtyard Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The report comprises one of four studies carried out in the SADC region with the aim “to contribute to the reduction of HIV incidence and impact of AIDS among migrant and mobile workers and their families, and the communities with which they interact in selected port communities in southern Africa.”  

 “Migrants due to the nature of mobility face serious health challenges in both disease prevention and accessing health care services. The study found evidence to indicate a concentration of disease transmission within and between populations who worked in and passed through ports. Interventions targeting Commercial Sex Workers(CSW’s) as ‘key populations’ are necessary; for  instance, appropriate services such as  night, weekend or mobile clinics. The regional scale of the sexual networks due to the mobility of truck drivers and CSWs means that involvement of national and regional government agencies in revising health policies and programmes.” commented Dr Erick Ventura, the Regional Coordinator for Migration Health, Southern Africa.

The study, which is the first of its kind to include personnel in four of the largest ports within the SADC region showed evidence to suggest that sedentary populations (such as food traders, policemen and port officials) who engage in commercial and transactional sexual relationships are becoming ‘high risk’ populations.

Tanzania will use the study findings as a platform for HIV and AIDS interventions for migrant populations in ports as well as associated transport corridors.  The study will also be used to inform various ongoing interventions along the Dar es Salaam Mbeya transport corridor.” Commented Dr. Jerome Kamwela, Director of Monitoring and evaluation TACAIDS.

According to UNAIDS, an estimated 1.4 million Tanzanians are currently living with HIV.

Dar es Salaam is among the top 10 African cities with high prevalence rate of HIV(6.9%-sixth highest rate in Africa). The majority of new infections in Tanzania are occurring in stable heterosexual relationships (38.8%), followed by casual heterosexual sex (28.9%), and clients of sex workers (8.7%). The national HIV response in Tanzania is currently reaching commercial sex workers with research and programming, but very little support is offered to migrants.

This study was conducted under the flagship of Partnership of Health and Mobility in Eastern and Southern Africa (PHAMESA). PHAMESA is a bi-regional health programme whose key objective is to contribute to the improved standard of physical, mental and social well-being of migrants by responding to their health needs throughout all phases of the migration process, as well as the public health needs of host and home communities.

For more information, please contact Sashi Perera at