UN backs training on harmful use of narcotics in Afghanistan

Marijuana plants

24 May 2010 – The United Nations is supporting a series of training programmes in Afghanistan for educators so they can then impart knowledge on the harmful effects of drug use, including the risk of HIV/AIDS infection, to their peers, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported today.

The “harm reduction” training, organized by the non-governmental organization Médecins du Monde and supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the Afghan National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), is an important component of an effective drug control strategy.

It seeks to minimise the harmful effects of problematic drug use. Peer educators are being trained on outreach, safe injection, condom provision, the needle syringe programme (NSP) – a strategy for disinfecting needles and syringes where they are reused or shared – and overdose management.

Drug abuse in Afghanistan was traditionally limited. However, due to internal and external displacement caused by more than 30 years of conflict, crisis-coping mechanisms have broken down and addiction rates have soared, according to UNAMA.

Recent data from John Hopkins University and NACP have confirmed fears that Afghanistan has evolved towards a HIV epidemic, concentrated among narcotics abusers.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has partnered with the international media development organization, Internews, to launch a 30-minute radio series to promote the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) within Afghanistan.

The Child’s Home Radio Magazine is being broadcast in Dari and Pashto languages via Salam Watandar, a network of 42 community radios nationwide.

The first programme, broadcast on Friday in Dari and today in Pashto, was dedicated to girls’ education to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). The programme aims to entertain, teach and trigger discussion among children, parents and teachers, on children’s rights.

In a related development, more than two million rural families in Afghanistan are expected to benefit from projects being undertaken by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the country’s ministry for rural development and rehabilitation.

So far 1,269 rural development projects have been completed, while 632 projects are under way in various districts across the country. The projects include the construction of health clinics and schools, road building and rehabilitation, clearing of irrigation canals, sinking of wells and the construction of water supply infrastructure.

The projects are estimated to cost more than $125 million and are funded by Japan, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United States, Canada and the Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNDP, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

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