16 April 2021 (Vienna, Austria) Referring to the importance of civil society, UNODC Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Waly said “Civil society is a key partner of UNODC and Member States in delivering action and people-centred advocacy on the ground, for humane, effective, evidenced-based prevention and treatment of drug abuse and disorders, protecting health and human rights.”
During the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the UNODC Civil Society Unit co-organised two side-events to present civil society responses to COVID-19 pandemic.
The first event co-organised together with the Kenyan Slum Child Foundation and the Russian National Anti-Drug Union focused on frontliners in curbing substance use among children and youth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Geographically diverse perspectives from all over the world were presented.
For example, Slum Child Foundation has been on the forefront supporting affected populations, offering cash transfer to some 4000 households through donations; providing psychosocial support to women, children and youth to help them cope with the impact of the pandemic. The Russian National Anti-Drug Union shared their experience in engaging youth in creative work in the form of “Game Quest” aimed to identify adolescents with drug use disorders and supporting them to develop their emotional resilience.
As the pandemic emphasised the importance of online tools for cooperation, this side-event was also the opportunity to showcase the NGO Marketplace, an online platform jointly developed by UNODC and the VNGOC to expand civil society connectivity and exchange.
The second event was co-organised by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC). It presented best practices work to people affected by drug use among families, children and youth as well as adolescent girls. Topics ranged from the provision of access to medicine, supporting in the distribution of COVID-19 aid among other services.
As an example, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, one of the speakers for this event, has presented their work in providing much needed access to medicine through telemedicine, electronic prescriptions, and using bodabodas to reach affected communities. Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas in Peru has initiated a COVID-19 resilience project in the Peruvian Amazon to mitigate the health, social and economic impact of the pandemic on the vulnerable population by sensitizing the target communities about the risks of COVID-19, building resilience capacities and strategies, and promoting economic recovery. The Uganda Youth Development Link is providing personal protective equipment and IEC materials, provide hygiene and sanitization products to youth, and support the Government to distribute much needed COVID-19 relief aid.
Some 48 side events were organized by or with civil society at this CND.