Drug Use Prevention Through Family Skills Training Programmes: Perspectives for Regional Collaboration

The goal of the UNODC regional meeting in Istanbul in June was to discuss the results of the implementation of the family skills training programme "Families and Schools Together" (FAST) in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Furthermore, the meeting was aimed at enhancing the regional exchange of expertise on drug use prevention between policy makers, FAST trainers and with an international team of experts. The meeting was organized within the framework of the global project "Prevention of drug use, HIV/AIDS and crime among young people through family skills training programmes".

This event was also envisaged as the platform of advocacy for the adoption of family skills programmes in neighboring countries. Therefore, observers from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Uzbekistan were invited to participate, share experiences and discuss regional exchange of expertise on drug use prevention. The participation of the respective delegations was made possible through the coordination of this event with the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries.

The meeting focused on the experience generated from the Central Asian countries as well as their plans of expanding the FAST programme in order to ensure national ownership of the process. The overview of the process of development of international drug use prevention standards by UNODC Vienna, and a discussion of national policies on drug use prevention in countries-observers were also in the meeting's agenda.

The following can be noted as the main outcomes of the event: the national concepts on ensuring sustainability of family skills programming strengthened the sense of national ownership and provided an excellent opportunity for the four implementing countries to learn from each other's ideas, as well as sensitized the other observer countries on the importance, value and practicality of implementing such programmes nationally. All observers' delegations expressed strong interest in initiating evidence based family skills intervention learning from the experience of project implementation in the four Central Asian countries. The challenges in the regional exchange of expertise were identified and the effective mechanisms of regional cooperation on drug use prevention were developed during the meeting.