Islamic Republic of Iran


UNODC Strong Families Programme gets started in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Training Workshop for Piloting of Strong Families Programme was conducted in Tehran


Dr Gelareh Mostashari; Expert, Drug Demand
Reduction; UNODC introduces speakers in the
opening ceremony of the training:
From right to left: Mr. Akihiro Konno, First Secretary
Japanese Embassy; H.E. Mr. Mitsugu Saito;
Ambassador of Japan; Mr. Alexander Fedulov,
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Iran Country Representative; Mr. Amir Abbas Lotfi Sarabi,
Director General of the International Affairs,
Drug Control Headquarters; and Mr. Samad Nariman,
Director General of Prevention and
Cultural Affairs, Drug Control Headquarters

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) Iran Country Office in collaboration with UNODC Prevention Treatment Rehabilitation Section - PTRS, HQ Vienna held a training workshop on 19-20 November 2019 for facilitators who will, for the first time, conduct the Strong Families Programme in Iran. The Strong Families Programme is a family skills prevention programme created for families living in challenged settings. The programme was developed by a global PTRS initiative to promote an evidence based culture of prevention and designed by researchers and experts from UNODC and it was piloted and has been implemented in countries across Asia, South America, and Africa as part of this global initiative.

UNODC Iran, with funding assistance from the Government of Japan and cooperation from its Iranian counterparts, namely Islamic Republic of Iran Drug Control Headquarters, Ministry of Education, State Welfare Organization, as well as several Iranian non-governmental organizations and in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will pilot the Strong Families Programme in 10 different centres across the cities of Tehran and Karaj. Over 300 families will take part in this initial implementation of Strong Families, and a future widespread implementation of the programme is expected. Previously, two other family skills programmes, the Families and Schools together (FAST) and the Strengthening Families Programme (10-14), were implemented in Iran. These programmes have demonstrated significant long-term positive effects on the Iranian youth who took part in it.

During the opening ceremony of the training workshop, Mr. Alexander Fedulov, UNODC Iran Country Representative, spoke about the need, in Iran and across the world, for evidence-based and gender-neutral family skills programmes to target the problem of drug addiction in a preventative manner. Mr. Fedulov spoke specifically about how the Strong Families Programme works to make families more resilient to drugs by strengthening family structures. Mr. Fedulov finished by thanking UNODC's Iranian counterparts, the Government of Japan, the leaders of the workshop, and the workshop participants. In addition to Mr. Fedulov, H.E. Mr. Mitsugu Saito; the Japanese Ambassador to Iran; Mr. Amir Abbas Lotfi Sarabi, Director General of International Relations of Drug Control Headquarters; and Dr. Samad Nariman, Director General of Prevention and cultural Affairs of Drug Control Headquarters, made introductory remarks for the workshop. H. E Ambassador Saito expressed his appreciation to Iranian national partners and UNODC and the facilitators for launching the Strong Families Programme. He reiterated that the goals of the of the strong families' programme are part of the Japanese government's cooperation with UNODC in improving public health and public safety. He wished success for UNODC, DCHQ, and the Iranian counterparts who are assisting with the programme.

The workshop was led by two experts from UNODC Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Wadih Maalouf, Project Coordinator of the aforementioned global programme GLOK01 and Dr. Karin Haar, UNODC consultant. Dr. Maalouf and Dr. Haar trained the facilitators who will be leading the sessions of Strong Families on the manner of conducting each of the sessions. The experts also guided the facilitators through activities in which the facilitators practiced leading the sessions of the programme. In addition, the facilitators stated their questions and concerns related to the implementation of the programme in the context of Iranian culture.

Dr. Wadih Maalouf, leads the facilitators
through one of the programme's activities

Over the 7 sessions of the Strong Families Programme, which will be conducted during 3 days, children and their caregivers (either parents or other guardians) will receive training on areas such as stress management, communication, and conflict resolution. In some sessions, the children and caregivers will receive separate trainings; in others, they will participate together. The programme has been developed based on a philosophy that each caregiver knows what is best for their child, and, therefore, the goal of the sessions is to identify and amplify those strengths, as well as to bring about a better understanding between child and caregiver of each other's perspectives and challenges.

As the implementation of Strong Families in Iran will be happening for the first time, in addition to the goal of helping the participant families, the cultural adaptability of programme itself will be tested; and to that end, for each participating centre, data collectors were selected to conduct assessments that will be aimed at testing the effectiveness of the programme's sessions in creating positive changes in the participants. Each of these data collectors was trained during a previous workshop held on 17 and 18 November 2019.