Youth leaders active in drug use prevention support their communities during COVID-19

Photo: © UNODC

Fatou, Marshall, and Javier, three engaged youth leaders from different parts of the world attended the Youth Forum of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) early this March in Vienna. Here they exchanged ideas with their peers about drug use prevention, promotion, and youth empowerment around the world. The forum also gave them an opportunity to convey their joint message to global policy makers.

Soon upon their return home, however, the participants of the Youth Forum 2020 saw the COVID-19 crisis unfold in their respective countries. Effective prevention strategies related to substance use prevention were quickly put into action in their communities to help vulnerable members of society during the pandemic.

Fatou Jeng from Gambia is active in information campaigns throughout the neighborhoods of Banjul to tell people about social distancing, practicing personal hygiene and the symptoms of COVID-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, she and her colleagues drove through neighborhoods to keep people safe and inform them about how to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, Marshall Jack Morrisseau from Canada and his organization Brandon Bear Clan Patrol continue their work and are disposing of syringes found on the street. About the changed circumstances of his volunteer work he said, “Usually we consist of 25+ volunteers who come patrol our downtown core but due to COVID-19 we are limiting our numbers and only doing a mobile patrol.”

As a “Safe Distancing Ambassador”, Javier Ng Jing Xuan from Singapore is engaged in intensifying measures on social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19. He points out to members of the public that they should walk at least 1.5 meters apart from others and asks them to wear their face masks.


The Youth Forum is an annual event organized in the broader context of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). Its main objective is to gather young people, nominated by Member States and active in the field of drug use prevention, health promotion and youth empowerment from around the world.

The main donor to the Youth Forum is the Russian Federation, as well as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Further information

UNODC Youth Initiative and the UNODC Youth Forum

The UNODC Handbook on Youth Participation in Drug Prevention Work (PDF)