Together with our member, Fourth Wave Foundation, we are coordinating the project ‘Strengthening Capacity – Empowering Children’ throughout 2022. The overall objective of the project aims to increase the possibilities for the protection and prevention of children and enhance access to care and treatment for all children. The project will be implemented in Kerala, India, accounting for over 35 million inhabitants (3% of the total population in India). The State of Kerala has been battered by severe floods in 2018 and 2019, increasing the problem of children and youth turning to drugs and narcotics as a quick alternative and quick means of money and landing into addiction and dependency. The first year of the project aims to be extended to a durable project. During the first year, the project aims to assess and improve societies and the state’s responses towards children who are affected by and addicted to or have parents who use drugs and have drug dependency issues by designing deflection programmes, advocating for creating child drug courts, establishing child treatment centres and protocols, building capacities, etc.

Significant to and supporting the project is the Convention on the Right of the Child, focusing on Article 33 (drug abuse) and Article 24 (health and health services). These rights clearly emphasise the need for care, treatment, and rehabilitation of children who are affected by substance abuse, directly and indirectly, targeting 750 schools and community level facilitators, 400 childcare professionals, and 120 children/parents with drug dependence. A preliminary survey has shown there is a lack of clarity in procedures related to treatment and care for children who are affected by substance abuse. By setting five different goals the project will work on increasing awareness, building capacity, and facilitating advocacy on the issue. This will be implemented through an evaluation study, a rights-based approach to capacity building programmes for facilitators, prevention campaigns, and a conference of Child Right to a substance abuse free environment. Through mapping the impact, development of multi-disciplinary teams and societal response with early interventions, and evaluation of increased and easy access to opportunities for recovery and social integration, the goals will be verified.