Promoting Good Practices and Networking for Reducing Demand for and Harm from Drugs  

Project Status: Ongoing
Project Duration: 27/8/2007 - 31/03/2016
Total Budget: US$ 3,545,793
Donors: European Commission, Sweden, UNDP
Counterparts: Ministries of Interior; Ministries of Health; Ministries of Education; Ministries of Social Affairs

Target Groups:
Demand Reduction NGOs/Resource Centres; Institution Personnel; Policy Makers

Outline And Objectives

The Middle East and North Africa are facing tremendous challenges regarding the growing problem of drug use and related HIV. In order to assist countries who wish to find and implement adapted solutions to these problems, UNODC in cooperation with government agencies, international partners and civil society institutions oriented by the Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction adopted in 1998, undertook to develop this programme within the context of regional activities.

Demand reduction strategies seek to prevent and discourage the onset of drug use among non-users, assist users to break the habit and provide them with treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration as well as to reduce the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse.

Despite the fact that the guidelines for drug demand reduction strategies are universal, the plan of action in different countries does not come in a one-size fit all format. The fundamental causes of the problem of drug abuse, social, economic and cultural factors have to be taken into account. People with different drug abuse problems have different needs and may suffer from different co morbid conditions.

The West Asian, the Gulf Region, the Middle-East and the Southern Mediterranean area encompasses different social and cultural situations as well as different conditions in relation to drug abuse patterns and trends. However the common social denominator is that Islam is the prevalent religion and most of the countries concerned have been experiencing an increase in drug abuse in the past decades that has also translated in serious social and health consequences namely in terms of heroin injection associated to an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases and drug-related deaths. Moreover, many of these countries have not set in place the necessary policy and programmatic approaches to respond to this developing situation. In some cases, the drug abuse problem is denied or neglected and drug dependents are marginalized, isolated and even criminalized. The public awareness of the drug abuse problem remains limited and the services available for those who are dependent on drugs are in many cases non-existent or not accessible.

This project aims at empowering regional capacities to cover a wide spectrum of activities aiming at reducing demand for, as well as harm from, drugs. This is being done through expanding and adapting successful national best practice models to a regional level and bringing local NGO/resource institutions of various expertises with those of best practice centres within the European Community.

The overall objective of the project is to build local capacity and expertise to comprehensively and effectively address the emerging drug demand situation in the countries of West Asia, the Gulf region, the Middle East and the Southern Mediterranean, through the promotion of best practices, particularly those emanating from the European experience and lessons learnt from local/regional know-how.

The project, implemented by UNODC ROMENA, targets to promote and advocate good practices for reducing demand for and harms from drugs, by developing evidence-informed policies, as well as improving coordination and harmonization of approaches among all partners.

The general concept of operation of this programme is to:

• Network priority countries from the region with available expertise. 

• Bridge this network of local expertise with European good practice institutions to adapt training modules to the regional context and train trainers one these modules.
• Provide seed funding for the participating countries to pilot test their training.

Countries Covered

Priorities were given to the countries who had demonstrated political will at the highest level to solve their drug problems and had relatively strong infrastructures of service provision aiming at reducing demand in order to strengthen their capacity of operation. The involvement of the countries was also based on available local expertise in the different domains.

The countries involved in the programme are:  Afghanistan; Algeria; Bahrain; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Authority; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; and Yemen.

Thematic Areas of Operation

States and partners are working on national work-plans to implement project activities on the following six drug demand and harm reduction priority areas:

  1. Prevention in Schools - Life Skills Education
  2. Prisons-Based Programme
  3. Drug Dependence Treatment
  4. Opiod Substitution Treatment
  5. Community Outreach
  6. Steering Community

An Independent Final Project Evaluation has been done in order to evaluate the impact of this project