HIRAT: in the brim of claiming its poppy free status
(Reporting from Kabul, 15 April, 2012)
Authors: Ha Nguyen & Hafeezullah Yawar
In 2010, being a province of 5 poppy cultivated districts, Hirat is in the speedy transformation to become a poppy free province as of April 2012. This significant progress was largely attributed thanks to CNPI campaign of the Colombo Plan drug advisory programme. In 2011, there is only one district left with opium -poppy cultivated status in compared to five of them back in 2010.
Hirat is one of 28 provinces out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan under the framework of the programme of Counter Narcotics Public Information Campaign (CNPI) and proudly listed among provinces that are effectively implementing outreach activities in the framework of the CNPI jointly implemented by the Colombo Plan Drugs Advisory Programme and Ministry of Counter Narcotics with the fund from INL, US Department of States since 2005. Geographically, together with Badghis, Farah and Ghor provinces, it makes up the south-western region of the country. Its population was estimated at 1,762,157 and the people of Hirat province speak both Dari and Pashto.
Mr. Ghulam Jailani Daqiq, MCN provincial director in Hirat, at the CNPI Stakeholders Meeting in December 2011, indicated that the public information campaign is highly appreciated because of its strong outreach effort toward the people of Afghanistan in general and in Hirat in particular. He added that prior to CNPI initiative neither Governor nor people in Hirat were aware of any information on the Ministry of Counter Narcotics or their role in the fight against drug menace. But now, in every single village of the province, people are aware of the CNPI programme, Ministry of Counter Narcotics and its role in educating and discouraging people from opium poppy cultivation, drug abuse and trafficking. Counter narcotics messages are reached out to people echoing that opium cultivation is against Islam and is very much harmful to personal and community health as well as prohibited by the Government with strict penalties for whom cultivating opium poppy.
CNPI observes an excellent coordination between MCN Provincial director and the Governor, a good practice to be adapted by other similar provinces of the programme. Following are prominent outreach activities which have been successfully implemented in Hirat in 2011 contributing to the increase in the poppy –free districts
YOUTH WORKSHOP: Two youth workshops were conducted with resource persons selected from Kabul. Trainers were from Department of Youth in Hirat presenting the role of youth in counter narcotics campaign. Participants were active youth leaders selected from Guzara, Enjil and Centre of Hirat City. Upon completion the workshops, youth leaders conducted six youth networks in different districts and villages in Hirat.
WOMEN WORKSHOP: Women were selected by Women affairs directorate to attend the workshops to familiarize them with counter narcotics messages and expected to deliver the message to others in their community. Women are effective messengers, who have influential role in educating and dissuading people from cultivating opium poppy.
ULEMA CONFERENCE: Religious belief is the most dominant reason for “never having cultivated opium poppy”. According to UNODC 2011 Opium Poppy Survey Report, 52 % of farmers who never grew opium reported that they did not do it because it is forbidden (haraam) in Islam. Ulema conferences were conducted in Hirat in recognition of the significance of Mulla networks in counter narcotics public information campaigns.
EDUCATION WORKSHOP: CNPI works closely with PDE programme of the Colombo Plan, to identify the master trainers to train other teachers , in order to educate students on drug prevention in all schools.
The Colombo Plan endeavors to claim its share in creating a poppy free status in Hirat in near future.
At the moment, Hirat is busy with its poppy eradication campaign. We do believe that in the very near future, with public information effort, Hirat will reach its poppy –free status without any doubts to become a public information model for other provinces in Afghanistan to follow.