Wise-Up Program

The Wise-Up Program (Wise-Up) is DKT/E’s HIV-prevention activity targeting sex workers, their clients, intimate partners, and gatekeepers, and other most at-risk populations (MARPs).


Wise-Up cultivates intimate, compassionate relationships with sex workers and other target audiences. These relationships are the foundation for advocacy around the areas of condom use and partner reduction.


Wise-Up and Safer Life - a monthlong series of HIV-related events - have become widely recognized features of the HIV-prevention landscape in Ethiopia.


Project Justification:

Throughout the world, sex workers and their partners are at-risk for HIV. Other groups like truck drivers, university students, and soldiers are also more at-risk.


At the same time, few organizations were working with these groups until 2005 when DKT/E initiated Wise-Up.


DKT/E began by experimenting with small-scale promotional material detailing at hotels and bars to ultimately developing a full-scale outreach, peer education, and public visibility program starting in 2007.



Like HEI, Wise-Up employs a multi-tiered programmatic approach, reaching several target audiences involved in commercial sex with tailored interventions:


    • Peer education training for sex workers
    • Drop-in centers with useful services for sex workers
    • Orientation about Wise-Up for bar owners, managers, and other gatekeepers
    • Training for other MARPs, including police, construction workers, and university students
    • Condom promotion events
    • Income-generation opportunities for sex workers
    • Condom distribution


Wise-Up is implemented byTimret Le Hiwot (TLH), one of the most accomplished local, non-government organization (NGOs) in Ethiopia with nearly 10 years of nationwide programming experience.




Wise-Up is currently active in 28 cities across Ethiopia. From 2010 - 2013, Wise-Up:


    • Trained 21,633 sex worker peer educators
    • Trained 3,000 police officers
    • Oriented 6,200 bar owners, managers and other stakeholders
    • Provided drop-in center services for 360,000 sex workers
    • 780 condom promotion as well as 76 Safer Life events


Wise-Up has received a number of international and Ethiopian accolades, including:


    • Red Ribbon Award, Nikat Women Association (Wise-Up’s subcontractor), 2010
    • Best Health Project, District 9,200, Rotary International, 2009
    • Best Cooperative Projects Award, Rotary International, 2009
    • Poster Exhibition, “Invisible Theatre”, 17th International AIDS Conference
    • Poster Exhibition, “Condoms and Kerosene”, 18th International AIDS Conference
    • Poster Exhibition, “The Baluka Study”, The International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) (2013)


Contact Yenenesh Tarekegn, DKT/E's Coordinator for Wise-Up, to learn more about the project.


Related Content

- "Wise-Up" Program Helps Former Ethiopian Sex Workers Find New Vocations


- Condoms and Kerosene