Community Based Approach for sustainable prevention and response to alcohol, drugs and substance abuse.

Community Based Approach for sustainable prevention and response to alcohol, drugs and substance abuse.

Project duration: One year (December 2012 – November 2013)

Project areas

This project was aimed at reaching men and boys in six (6) counties in Kenya i.e. Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Migori, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu with messages for preventing alcohol, drugs and substance abuse.

Partners: Learning institutions among them primary and secondary schools, members of the general community, CSOs, the police, Cultural Religious and Administrative Leaders, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) among others.

Objectives:
Goal

Increased technical support and enhanced local capacity, for prevention and response to alcohol, drugs and substance abuse disorders and associated health conditions;
Broad Objectives

Mobilizing communities to prevent and respond to alcohol consumption, drugs and substance abuse and to develop and support alcohol and drugs-free environments, especially for youth and other at-risk groups.

Build capacity of community members to enable them address create awareness of harm to others and among vulnerable groups caused by alcohol, drugs and substance abuse thus avoiding stigmatization and actively discouraging discrimination against affected groups and individuals.

Specific Objectives:

Strengthen knowledge base on the magnitude and determinants of alcohol, drugs and substance abuse-related harm and on effective interventions to reduce and prevent such harm;
Create crucial linkages between initiatives focusing on the prevention and response to alcohol, drugs and substance abuse;
Galvanize action/ momentum to address alcohol, drugs and substance abuse;
Strengthen partnerships and better coordination among stakeholders and increased mobilization of resources required for appropriate and concerted action to prevent the harmful use of alcohol and other substances;
Establish systems for monitoring at different levels, and more effective dissemination and application of information for awareness, advocacy, policy development and evaluation purposes.

Methodology/Implementation strategies:

Men for Gender Equality Now (MEGEN) usesa combination of several interventions and activities to achieve its set objectives. A comprehensive strategy seems to give the best results and it is upon this background that we are going to apply different strategies to reach out to our target populations. We are targeting to reach out to men and boys in six (6) counties in Kenya i.e. Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Migori, Vihiga, UasinGishuwith messages for preventing alcohol, drugs and substance abuse. We are targeting men and boys because; men and boys sustain, reproduce and legitimize the majority of social structures that justify the promotion of unhealthy male behaviour and undermine attempts by other men to become involved in public health and social justice initiatives.

Community mobilization:Make alcohol and drug prevention a part of the agenda for social and political movements, link the issue to other key policy issues and involve leadership and members of CBOs and NGOs in practical activities.There are many examples of social and political movements that have mobilized their members and the public opinion towards better alcohol policies, but also contributed to changes in cultural patterns and in individual behaviour of many people. Such examples include organizations working specifically with alcohol and drug issues, but just as much other movements which have integrated alcohol and drug issues as part of their other agendas; women’s movements, political parties, religious organizations, health promotion organizations, consumer association, trade unions etc.

Education; a peer-based approach: It has been difficult to prove that public information and education is effective in changing the drinking pattern or consumption level in any population group. This means that such campaigns can never replace control policy measures. On the other hand, if well designed, education and information activities are needed to generate popular support for implementation of effective policies. Another important task is to educate a variety of professional groups in how they can contribute to alcohol and drugs prevention in their ordinary work; medical doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, politicians, police etc.

Local and national efforts: As economic and cultural spectrum expands, it becomes increasingly important to design and implement coordinated prevention efforts on both the local and national level. Some actions are most effective when implemented within the local community and by the community itself, while other interventions can only be effective when they have a national scope.

Targeting larger population groups: Environmental prevention engages the community and broadens the reach of Alcohol and drugs prevention as more people become engaged in improving the quality of life in their community. Rather than intervening to reduce risk one person at a time, environmental prevention strategies have the ability to create changes among entire populations that result in substantial net benefits to society in terms of reduced problems. Changes in drinking patterns and drug-taking habits are above all a social and cultural phenomenon. Individuals are, in many respects, simply swimming with the tide. We adopt other people’s habits, and vice versa. Cultural changes are long and complicated chain reactions. Therefore it is vital to understand the cultural and social context of drinking and drug taking, as a part of designing prevention strategies. The most effective way to influence alcohol and drug consumption is, consequently, to change the user environment through targeting larger population groups, rather than targeting the individual users.

Local and culture specific: The national knowledge base on alcohol and drug prevention must be combined with a thorough understanding of the specific cultural, political and social situation where the substance abuse occurs. MEGEN will therefore contribute to the development of culture specific documentation on the alcohol and drug situation in areas we operate, both through participatory research and systematic collection of experiences from the field.

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