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This is a transcript of Rogers Kasirye's lecture during the webinar last Wednesday. Rogers Kasirye is a Board Member of WFAD, representing Africa. He is also Executive Director of Uganda Youth Development Link.                                

Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for accepting to listen to my presentation and to WFD who enabled this to happen.

The East African region : Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi – members of the East African Community (EAC) southern Sudan. All these countries are low income resource. Most of the population ns over 60 percent young characterized with high levels of poverty.

Illicit drugs use:

Illicit drug use has been increasing in East African region.

This region now is source, consumer, suppliers and transit route especially from Middle East countries of Asia to Africa and Europe. High level consumption has been noticed, mainly using cannabis, hard drugs like heroin and cocaine have also been reported. Thus, youth face many risks arising out drug use including HIV/AIDS; its on set may imply many challenges associated with drug use. East Africa has the highest numbers of HIV/AIDS infections in the world according WHO.

Population affected young people are majorly affected .

We see new cases of IV drug use, pockets using hard drugs, schools related violence. High risk populations include slums and street children, unemployed youth in slums major (Kibera Mathere as well as in Mombasa in Kenya, Dar es salaam Tanzania , sex workers, students, rural forks who are employed.

What do we see being applied to prevent illicit drugs use?

First of all interventions are varied dependent on resources, knowledge of interventions, most are project based and may not based on sound or evidence based principles.

· Most prevention efforts rely / depend on schools to reach young people and sometimes of their families as yet most young people are out of schools.

· Parent’s intervention a just emerging like the recently launched material Smart parents on Which recognize that the family environment plays an important role in shaping young peoples attitude towards drug abuse? And increasing a range of protective and risk factors.

· NGOs and Faith based organization do the bulk of prevention work in the communities especially in urban centre true there is a proliferation of Community based organizations attempting to reach drug users. (Trying all sorts of interventions such as life skills, DARE, AA and many others, quite often non interactive and use classroom formats. Most programs are not shaped on the needs within he community and there is a lot of generalization. Most of these interventions have not been evaluated in the past we cannot tell the level of efficacy.

· Nature of experience and science varies, minimal impact is observed since standards of delivery appear a challenge.

· Regional distribution of prevention work varied both in international commitment and intervention distribution. Countries which have put in place laws such Kenya in 1994 and \Tanzania have well developed operational mechanism. But there is leaning towards law enforcement and seizure and lesser on treatment.

· Prevention is still weak, done at once with no follow ups, with fewer capacity buildings for staff. There is still too much focus on abstinence, less interaction and participation of beneficiaries and more classroom settings.

· Co- related issues presented by population affected by drugs such HIV/AIDS/risk / sex work, unemployed/homelessness.

· Children are still being sent in prisons because of use of drugs but receive no help. Where here is no help and rehabilitation.

Prevention which is child centered not user centered strategies

Why we are thinking more about prevention

1. Prevention is cheap- low

2. Targeting young children who are malleable until age 21years

3. Costs of treatment high and countries region cannot afford.

What works?

Prevention science has made a lot of progress and now we have a sense of some effective interventions thus in East Africa we should embrace some of these good innovations.

In prevention in East Africa we need to

· Raise awareness and increasing knowledge through communication and how this can be applied. Especially about protective factors especially the family support and school environments and reduce risks factors including poor decision making, peer pressure and others.

· Increase parental involvement as basis for prevention and target children when young. Parents need to know to respond when drug abuse is involved, how to communicate, and nature of parent life styles and help children take life health decisions and how to support them.

· Students and schools are confronted with illicit use of drugs therefore school based programs need to be designed to intervene early both in academic performance and social stress life inn varying degree depending on age and develop other competence skills such as communication , assertiveness, resistance skills anti drug characteristics. Youth themselves who are confronted by peers to try out these drugs; supply chain targeting young people. Young people who want to experiment drugs.

· Promote youth interactive programme in community aimed at the general populations who may not be reached in schools use of drama, sports; peer sessions, use of posters, group session which make teaching fun time.

· Counselling and developing skills, resistance, peer pressure, relapse to address all forms of drug abuse both legal and illicit drugs including solvents which are wide spread use Amount Street and slum youth.

· Lifestyles without drugs- Sports, music, clubs

Also note that in prevention

· Role of Media -Concern how media portrays drug use; has a strong influence and exposure can be dangerous, sometime shows picture which support use of drugs. (TV, Internet, print, radio and music) an in East Africa Use of drugs has been closely linked with Music, football and sports betting areas which attract young people. We have seen a proliferation of use of drugs. Viewing smoking can escalates drug abuse, so we have to talk the media and youth about negative influence which comes with media exposure.

· Youth work related interventions targeting specific behaviour which may trigger drug use such as and develop strategies that focus one youth economic empowerment to address poverty, high levels of unemployment vocational skills, cash transfer and saving culture. putting intor consideration the age, gender

· Staff training taking into consideration (issues of parent, standards, and effective

· Teachers who a need to be smart to address drug prevention in schools

· Multi disciplinary and use of all professional.

· Adapting Life skills models and other new innovations about universal drug prevention programs that have come on board to prevent drug use.

Way forward

· Parent and youth intervention work and these can contribute to prevention in their communities.

· We need to reach more schools with new interventions that can bring change.

· Adapt Use of latest phones latest technology (facebook, tweeter,

· Policy and legal reforms

· Professional trainings and human resources development and exposure to evidence based prevention programs and those that conform to standard.

· Address risk taking behaviour and design more social and economic empowerments for schools and youth who are out school

· Low resource

Thank you

Rogers Kasirye