Marketplace Gives Visibility to Grassroots NGOs Working on Drugs
Vienna, 13 March 2015 The concept of Marketplace - a social innovation tool designed by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) and UNODC - was presented during a side event held on the margins of the 58 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The Marketplace is an online platform that will help bridge local action and global priorities in the area of drug prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and alternative development, significantly reducing impact gaps.
Welcoming the participants, H.E. Mr. Arthayudh Srisamoot, Chairperson of the 58th CND, praised Marketplace as an instrument through which Member States, civil society and the private sector can join hands to tackle the world drug problem and work towards sustainable development.
Grassroots NGOs working on drug prevention and treatment in Afghanistan, Canada - Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Colombia, Kenya, Morocco, Sri Lanka - Alcohol and Drug Information Centre and the U.S.A. - Community Anti-Drug Coalition introduced their work and expressed their views on how Marketplace could be of use to them.
George Ochieng Odalo, Executive Director of the Slum Child Foundation, Kenya, shared from his experience as a street child. It was this childhood that determined him to found an NGO and to help street children living in the Korogocho slum in Nairobi. "I thought the CND was only for big organisations", he said presenting his work. "By participating in the Marketplace, small and grassroots NGOs will have a voice in UNGASS and in the international drug policy debate."
The prevention work and treatment services offered by the Nejat Center in Afghanistan were presented by its Executive Director - Mohammad Qasim Zamani. The Nejat ("help" or "rescue") Center was founded in 1991 and has provided residential treatment to more than 10,000 drug users since then. Working with UNODC since 1992, the Center has built a support network throughout Afghanistan - the Nejat families.
For Margarita María Sanchez Villega, Director of Corporación Surgir in Colombia, drawing closer to UNGASS in 2016 was a crucial moment for civil society to contribute to establishing a real equilibrium between demand and supply reduction. Based on the organisation's 35-year experience in educational prevention programs, Margarita noted that NGOs were only a piece of the puzzle, but an essential one in the shared responsibility of all to deal with the world drug problem.
The President of L'Association pour l'écoute et le dialogue in Morocco, Mina Baji, provided an overview of the work of her organisation with youth in preventing the use of drugs, tobacco and HIV/AIDS. Founded after two of her students overdosed, the organisation was the first to create observatories and counselling centers in schools and to train professors and parents on how to actively get involved in prevention work.
In their presentations and the discussion which followed both the NGO speakers and the audience applauded the Marketplace as a unique opportunity to share their expertise on the ground worldwide and to build partnerships. They all looked forward to the official launch of the platform at the UNGASS in 2016.