Currently, UNODC supports and promotes sustainable alternative development programmes and projects in six countries. In general, the level of progress made to date by the programmes differs between the Andean region and South East Asia and Central Asia. For example, in Colombia and Peru, alternative development programmes have moved away from focusing on food security and the emphasis is now largely on increasing the production of agricultural products for export markets. In South East Asia, programmes in Lao PDR and Myanmar continue to strive to reduce levels of poverty and ensure food security.

National support to AD programmes had also experienced a shift in recent times. For example, AD projects in Colombia are almost entirely fully funded by the government and Peru has increased its national investment substantially. Afghanistan, Lao PDR and Myanmar on the other hand, continue to depend largely on international donor assistance. Although national funding has increased, donor assistance has not kept the same pace perpetuating a low coverage rate for farming communities engaged in illicit crop cultivation.


Member States and UNODC utilize alternative development as the principal method to address illicit drug crop cultivation within the framework of poverty reduction and sustainable development. UNODC works in partnership with the affected countries, other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Currently, UNODC supports and promotes sustainable alternative development programmes and projects in six countries. The focus is on helping small farmers with licit income generation activities to reduce their dependency on income from opium and coca cultivation. Efforts are also centred in the sectors of health, education, basic infrastructure, community development and food security. Special attention is given to environmental protection and improved markets for alternative development products. UNODC-supported alternative development also empowers communities while ensuring that both men and women equally benefit from development interventions.

UNODC's global alternative development activities include developing best practices and lessons learned and improving analysis and dissemination of project results. In-depth studies and evaluations of alternative development programmes and projects are conducted to monitor and track the progress made in areas such as environmental considerations, gender mainstreaming , credit schemes, income diversification, the role of community organizations and sound project monitoring and management at local and national levels. Experience from previous projects has shown that isolated alternative development projects are usually insufficient to bring about sustained change, and that engagement in illicit cultivation needs to be understood and acted upon in terms of how it relates to broader national and regional political, economic, social and development problems. Objectives of human development, sustainable reduction in illicit cultivation, drug control objectives and the lessons learned by alternative development interventions need to be integrated into development policies, strategies and programmes.

The experiences of UNODC's global activities contribute to the establishment of a repository of technical knowledge which is used by governments and UNODC to design new programmes and projects, identify indicators of achievement and benchmarks, develop capacity building programmes and disseminate material for advocacy and resource mobilization.

    For an overview of the geographic location of UNODC alternative development projects worldwide, click here.