29 July 2004
Japan Pledges Funds for Drug Demand Reduction Programme in Afghanistan
VIENNA, 29 July (UN Information Service) -- The Government of Japan pledged a contribution of approximately US$1 million towards a project aimed at drug demand reduction in Afghanistan, to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today.
The UNODC project in Afghanistan aims at mainstreaming drug demand reduction activities within the relevant Government institutions, United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and community groups in the area of healthcare, education and community development at the provincial, district and village levels in Badakhshan, Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces.
These three provinces, which have been selected as target areas for the project, are three of the four main poppy cultivation provinces in Afghanistan. Drug abuse/misuse is increasing in these areas, particularly the use of opium and heroin. Given the almost total collapse of social and physical infrastructure after over two decades of war and conflict, these areas are characterized by a lack of trained staff to deal with drug abuse problems.
The project will raise awareness about the danger of using drugs and will disseminate the knowledge and techniques for reducing drug demand in the Afghan community. It will be executed in close cooperation with the provincial authorities. Workers will be trained in healthcare, social work, education and community development to provide drug treatment and rehabilitation services to drug users in the target areas. Social multipliers such as school teachers, mullahs, police and community leaders will also be trained to implement drug abuse prevention activities with groups at risk of drug abuse/misuse, and to work with local communities. This will enable these groups to sustain activities in demand reduction and to organise and coordinate demand reduction services and facilities at the provincial, district and community levels, in order to establish an effective and coherent network of services in primary, secondary and tertiary drug abuse prevention.
Drug abuse in Afghanistan has increased sharply over the last few years due to prolonged human deprivation and suffering, the breakdown of traditional social controls, the return of refugees who developed a drug problem in refugee camps and the almost unlimited availability of opiates within Afghanistan. The war-wounded also became addicted as a consequence of primitive first aid and a large-scale use of opium, morphine and heroin as painkillers. This project aims at reaching out to the communities most affected by this trend, using a community-based approach. Coupled with a separate UNODC project to provide similar assistance to communities in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat, the project is expected to provide much needed support to drug demand reduction efforts in Afghanistan.
Japans contribution will be provided through the Trust Fund for Human Security, a Fund established in 1999 by Japan in the United Nations Secretariat, with total contributions of 25.9 billion yen (approximately US$227 million) to date. The Trust Fund has assisted numerous projects of UN agencies that address threats to human life, livelihood and dignity from the perspective of Human Security. This is the first time that a UNODC project in Afghanistan has been financed by this Fund.
* *** *