2 July 2012 - On June 28, UNODC Executive Director Mr. Yury Fedotov toured the Post Avenue Community in the Inwood section of Manhattan, New York City to witness how the local community is addressing drug use challenges.
The tour was organized by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), a national substance abuse prevention organization representing more than 5,000 community anti-drug coalitions across the United States. It was hosted by UNIDOS Coalition, a New York based community organisation and member of CADCA working in the Inwood section of Manhattan to help reduce youth problem behaviours, many of which originate from drug use.
"UNODC recognizes the need to promote strong partnerships with civil society organizations in dealing with the complex problems of drug abuse and crime which undermine the fabric of society. To tackle drugs, we need to keep constant contact with on the ground knowledge and expertise. We regard the NGO community such as UNIDOS Coalition as a key partner and a powerful voice in reaching the people whom UNODC ultimately works to serve," said Mr. Fedotov.
Mr. Fedotov also lauded the efforts of local residents, saying, "Drug use prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable and involves families, teachers and youth leaders, among others". He added that UNODC promotes community-based strategies and tailored actions developed with the participation of all concerned sectors of society - from families to schools to local health service providers and law enforcement professionals.
General Arthur T. Dean of CADCA said, "This site visit represents a growing interest in the community coalition model as an effective strategy that can be utilized as part of a global demand reduction effort. UNIDOS is an example of what community anti-drug coalitions are doing across the country to prevent and reduce illicit substance use in their communities." CADCA is helping to build and train coalitions like UNIDOS throughout the United States and in 16 other countries.
UNIDOS Coalition reaches about 1,000 young people in the Inwood area through direct activities with families, and by implementing numerous comprehensive community interventions to address the conditions in the environment that contribute to substance abuse and crime. So far, the Coalition has developed and implemented around twenty different interventions for children, teenagers, and their families throughout the neighborhood since its inception.
Mr. Angelo Ortiz, the Coordinator of UNIDOS Coalition and Inwood Community Services, said, "Changing the environment in inner-city neighborhoods like Inwood and Washington Heights requires years of persistence and a comprehensive approach. We are happy to join our national organization, CADCA, to demonstrate how our coalition is helping to forge positive relationships and addressing local conditions to effect change in an area plagued by socio-economic issues and narco-trafficking."