WOCACA HOSTS DRUG POLICY AND HARM REDUCATION PLATFORM (DPHRP) – MALAWI PROJECT: STRENGTHENING DRUG POLICY REFORM ADVOCACY
Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA), on behalf of the Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Platform (DPHRP) received a small grant from AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) to implement an advocacy project on drug policy reforms. The platform is composed of People Who Use Drugs (PWUDs), the Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), Youth Watch, United Religious Initiative and other advocates. The aim of the platform is to lobby for changes to the existing drug laws in Malawi which affect human rights including women and child rights across Malawian society.
This advocacy project was designed to complement and sustaining the previous advocacy work in terms of Drug Policy Reform focusing on strengthening the Drug Policy Reform Platform, Increasing Participation of key stakeholders in drug policy reform debates and identifying new approaches to pushing for drug policy reform.
The project looked at the following milestones: -
- Increasing awareness on the need for drug policy reform and harm reduction programs.
- Increasing key stakeholder participation (Media, Drug Users and Enforcement Agencies) focusing on knowledge, attitudes and practices in efforts to initiate the drug policy reforms; 3. Initiate a gendered drug policy and harm reduction dialogue.
- Strengthening Platform to provide coordination for drug policy reforms and harm reduction programs.
The activities were ably conducted though with some challenges encountered in the short period of project implementation. Although Covid-19 was a major challenge due to government restrictions as part of preventive measures, the project managed to implement all the planned activities. The project registered more active involvement and voices of Inadequately Served Populations (ISPs) such as the PWUDs and sex workers, youth and full support from local community leaders and the law enforcement and advocates. The media on the other hand through close engagement developed passion on drug policy reforms issues and this is reflected in/from their positive coverage in both (print and electronic) as a result of this project.
The project registered very good results in view of the active participation of the PWUDs, sex workers, chiefs and law enforcement and many others, creation of gender space on drug policy reforms issues and the coming up of the platform national drug policy action plan.