Substance abuse prevention among school going persons, both nationals and refugees in Adjumani District
A Peacemaking Project by Anyama Akomi J.
What is the injustice we are solving?
High rate of substance use/ drug abuse by school going children in my district
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of Increasing non therapeutic drug/Substance use among school going persons in Adjumani district
we will address Environmental factors that predispose school going persons to drug use in Adjumani district. Inadequate parenting skills of parents to school going persons with risk factors and vulnerability factors to drug use.
by Teaching school going persons about the social, economic and health effects of drug use to the user, family and the community and equip them with resistance skills that can delay or prevent progression from explorative drug use to a drug dependent. Liaise with the parents, community members and Government authorities in order to address the risk factors and vulnerability factors that predispose school going persons to drug use in the district and refer for treatment/rehabilitation those with drug use disorders.
Our Project Plan:
- To carryout a Rapid Baseline Survey in order to identify risk factors and vulnerability factors to drug use/substance abuse among school going persons, both nationals and refugees in the district.
- To address the risk factors and vulnerability factors driving school going persons, both nationals and refugees to drug use /substance abuse in the district.
- To liaise with health authorities, communities/community leaders, and law enforcement authorities to provide support to the school going persons who are already using drugs or substance.
We will increase my / our compassion by...
Using a unique but friendly evidence based drug use prevention intervention strategies that equip and empower school going persons, parents and community members with the correct information about the effects of drug use to the users, their families and the communities they live in such that they can make informed decisions when faced with a drug use situation and delay drug use. This will be far different from the community and government's approach of considering them as public nuisance/ outcasts and jailing them yet most of them usually don't progress to drug addicts or dependent drug users as the community think. Advocating for the provision of counseling, treatment and rehabilitation of those school going persons under police custody for drug related crimes. Liaising with district heath authorities to provide drug user friendly services where they can communicate their personal risk factors and vulnerability factors to drug use and get authentic drug related information.
How will you show courage?
Most school going persons are in their exploration stage of development and need not to be judged by their drug use habit. Most of them don't even progress to become drug addicts. We need to identify the reasons, risk factors and vulnerability factors that has predisposed them to drug use. This risk factors need to be solved/corrected and or modified and then equip them with resistance skills to enhance their decision making when exposed to drug use situation. Those who use drugs should be referred for counseling, treatment and rehabilitation instead of branding them useless and public nuisance. Those arrested by the law authorities with drug related crimes should be offered rehabilitation and treatment even while detained.
How will you collaborate with others?
Community Collaboration. Identification of risk factors and vulnerability factors to drug use. Identification of school going persons who are using drugs. Addressing the risk factors and vulnerability factors within their communities by setting bi-laws and becoming mentors to the school going persons. Collaboration with Health Authorities. Provision of school going persons friendly services in the district hospital. Treating school going persons who are using drugs and referring them for rehabilitation. Collaboration with Education and Sports Authorities. Establish bi-laws that regulate access of students to drugs within the school environment. Advocate for healthy lifestyle clubs to be established in all schools in the district. Collaboration with Law enforcement Authorities. Ensure that all those that are detained due to drug abuse related cases are offered treatment and rehabilitation. Collaboration with Media. Radio talkshows, Radio spot messages are held and shared to educate the general public on effects of drugs on the user, their families and communities.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
Pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaires, and interviews shall be held with the participants of the project, law enforcement Authorities, education authorities, health authorities and the community members and analysed to asses the impact of the project. Testimonials from those who were treated and or referred for rehabilitation. Photos and videos from field visits. End of project Report.
- Meeting with Peace First to clarify, develop, prepare and approve the project and it's implementation strategy.
- Meeting with the district leadership, health authorities, law enforcement Authorities, education authorities and community leaders to specify roles and responsibilities in the project implementation.
- Developing and printing necessary project implementation tools, this will include, survey questionnaires, drug prevention education materials, and guidelines to follow during the whole project.
- Recruit committed volunteers to work with in implementing the project and build their capacity to understand the project and it's intervention strategies.
- Carryout a Rapid baseline survey to identify the risk factors and vulnerability factors exposing school going persons to drug use.
- Re-evaluate project intervention strategies with the results of the baseline survey.
- Address the risk factors and vulnerability factors to drug use among school going persons in the district.
- Identify school going persons who are using drugs and refer them for treatment and rehabilitation.
- Mass media campaigns on Radio and Facebook passing information about prevention of drug use to the general public.
- Collect an end of project survey in order asses the impact of the project.
- Produce a detailed report about the impact of the project and the lessons learnt from it and submit it to Peace First and our other partners.
How many young people (13-25), including yourself, were part of the team that you worked with to plan and implement your project?
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
Substance use among school going persons is a big hurdle that has not been understood clearly so overlooked by the community in the district. We have realised that 1 in 2 of a school going persons between 15-25 years is at multiple risks of using drugs especially alcohol while 1 in 4 in the district is already using drugs. We also understood that for an effective prevention intervention to work, it must involve all the different levels at which the school going persons have their risks, say it individual level, community level, policy level and education Level.
How did your community change as a result of your project?
The community in which we have carried out was greatly impacted on. The project was able to meet 44 youth groups in 44 different villages from four subcounties within the district. The youths in this villages were educated on the effects of substance use. This has helped them to make informed choices when faced with a drug use situation. There has been a Reduction in the number of school going Persons from the villages in which the project was carried out. The community now has a drug user friendly consultation office at the district hospital where they consult on their personal risks for drug use. This consultation is for not only the school going persons as but also all those with drug use challenges, the number of consultations has been growing steadily. The community has been able to help act as key informants out of good will without being asked to do so to identifying and linking with us those whom they feel need help. With their drug use behavior. The community has started to support substance abuse prevention campaigns, one member of the community whose son we have refered for rehabilitation has given us Ugx.150,000 ($41) to support us in our project, we await to see how the son will be once he is out of rehabilitation next month. The community has encouraged us not to give up thou we shall face a lot of challenges because of the sociocultural aspect associated with alcohol use in the Madi community. This has boosted our moral as we plan on scaling up our efforts. Radio Amani, a local radio station in the district has agreed to create us a free airtime for one hour every Saturday on their two hour program youth on crossroads to talk about the drug prevention. (This had been disrupted by the elections but they promised to still give us the time when election ends.)
How many people were impacted by your project?
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project that you shared above?
The project met youth groups in 44 villages, the average number of youths attending a session is 16. Ranges from 15-33 youths between 15 to 24 years Multiplying 44 by 24 gives us an total attendance of 1056 school going persons who have been equiped with resistance skills and life skills to delay, prevent and make informed decision when faced with a drug use situation.
In addition to those directly impacted, are there additional people you feel were indirectly indirectly impacted or reached? If so, how many? (This might include people who read about your project, families of people that attended your workshops or received services, etc.)
Almost the 1056 direct beneficiaries all.come from different families with an average family size of 4, this gives a total of 1056 families indirectly impacted on (4224 people) We have sent 4 people whose parents have agreed to support them for rehabilitation through the district hospital to Butabika mental health rehabilitation center. The parents to the four students, were impacted on. The project with the help of the DHO established a drug user friendly consultation office at the district hospital operating on Wednesday and Saturdays, an average number of consultations has been 11 per week, and since it is operational for 7 weeks now, about 100 people regardless of the age has been seen from the clinic. The project has gone for one live radio talk show, were over 3000 people were listening and 12 people called in to ask questions and give comments on the drug use issue on the district. We have also use social media to a lesser extend to reach youths about 500 youths in total.
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
Local Council officials called to Inform us. Some community members acted out of good will as key informants. The district Health office, the district police were all very supportive I'm helping is to locate key zones within the town council for drug use activities. Some of the direct beneficiaries also confided in us about their personal drug use challenges and or those their friends using drugs.
What did your team learn?
There is need for more efforts in implementing drug use prevention project, at different levels and not only peer group level since the risks are at different levels. There are very many innocent people who are using drugs because they haven't been talked to about the effects of drug use. Some of the leaders are the ones actually buying alcohol for the youths to drink as incentives to campaign for them during elections. There is need to advocate for role model leadership since the community listens to the leaders more. We should make use of the network formed through this project to advocate for more public health action on drug use in the district. The project need to be scaled up by all means as it's impact currently has been to a lesser extent crippled by the general elections.
What challenges did your team overcome?
Limited finances One of the team member went to school because she was a finalist. Transportation challenges Lengthy clearance procedure from district leadership. Not registered organization in the district. Time keeping by the Youths at village level. The campaign Period for the general elections. Poor information dessimination by the local council 1 leadership.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
The district health office through the mental health department has cleared our project implementation documents before we carried out the project. Permission was sought from the district leadership and local Council officials. The media house, Radio Amani FM has agreed to act as our media partner. The district hospital management has been involved and has provided us an office as a place for drug user friendly consultation. They have also participated in rehabilitation and referral process for the four students. The parents of the students who are already using drugs and have consented to rehabilitation program has been involved in reducing the home based risks for their drug use.
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
A peacemaking project is a very great opportunity for you to begin your career on project management from. It seems very easy at the beginning, it appears impossible at the beginning 😃, but as you reach the middle of project, you become a glimpse of hope for the community for the particular injustice you are addressing. Don't give up, you are in the right place to be guided by friends of like-mindednes to slow you rise to a community agent of change. Something to motivate you "Remember to start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, you will then obviously find yourself doing the impossible 🤗🤗"