UNODC Afghanistan addresses impact of crises on communities while celebrating the International World Drug Day 2022

UNODC in Afghanistan is the lead organization in the fight against illicit poppy cultivation and drugs production in the country. UNODC, along with its implementing partners, Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR), Dutch Committee for Afghanistan (DCA), and Youth Health and Development Organization (YHDO), and other UN sister agencies celebrated the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, 2022. The theme this year was “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises” and aligned with UNODC’s mandate to create a drug-free world where every child, youth, man, and woman are protected from drug abuse, and has access to a healthy life.

In order to energize and mobilize the people who are most affected by illicit drugs, UNODC organized several sessions and events on drug awareness in Helmand, Kabul and Kandahar provinces with vulnerable communities. The offline activities were designed to correlate with the #CareInCrises campaign, which was being rolled out on social media platforms across country.

The #CareInCrises campaign was a success; and the UN agencies in Afghanistan joined the campaign to amplify counter narcotics messages through the official social media handles.

As part of this effort, over 250 farmers and community elders participated in the awareness generation sessions organized in Lashkargah, Nad-e-Ali, and Nahr-e-Siraj districts in Helmand, and Arghandab, Dand, Maiwand, Daman, Panjwayee and Zhaire districts in Kandahar. Through the engaging interactions, participants were encouraged to move towards alternative licit livelihood options, such as dairy production, poultry farming and licit crops cultivation. They were informed that agricultural options such as saffron, cereals, and vegetables production are attractive income generation activities that do not have the risks and pitfalls of opium poppy cultivation. Participants were informed about the negative effects of the illicit opium poppy production at the individual level, on their families, and on their communities. Most of the farmers involved in opium poppy product were unaware of the numerous risks they face including chronic health problems, infectious disease transmission, financial and social insecurity, addiction, and family breakdown. The participants were encouraged to share their learnings from the events forward and assist their communities to move away from opium poppy cultivation and production.

In the same line, the UNODC health program organized a three-day training for 25 services providers including doctors, counsellors, and clinical staff that provide drug treatment services at different provinces in Kabul. The training was designed to build their capacities on Volunteer Confidential Counseling Testing (VCCTs) of HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis, which is an outreach service and harm reduction interventions focused on providing qualitative services to drug users in the target provinces.