The grant of $100,000 will be used to develop the capacity of civil society organisations and governments in Asia to develop more gender sensitive approaches, by focusing on programs that target women who use drugs and the female partners of men who use drugs.
Research shows that in most parts of Asia, women who use drugs are often rejected by their families and as a result resort to sex work to finance their drug addiction, increasing their vulnerability to HIV infection.
While precise statistics on women who use drugs at a pan-Asia level are hard to come by, country-level data shows that this is an increasing issue. For example in India, there are approximately 24,000 people who use drugs in the state of Manipur, of which around 7% are women. In China, in the provinces of Yunnnan and Guangxi, women who use drugs constitute 16–25% of all drug users in HIV/AIDS treatment.
The Alliance project will focus on three countries (India, Cambodia and Bangladesh) and will start with a community needs analysis to map gaps in current HIV IDU programming and advocacy, as well as sexual and reproductive health services for women and men who use drugs. This will help assess the requirements for technical support in these countries, and elsewhere within the region.
Following the research, the project will go on to identify at least 15 civil society organisations and networks in these three countries to receive technical support. The project will also target government agencies, particularly National AIDS program officials, SACS (State AIDS Control Societies) and officials from the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment.
A pool of national technical support providers will receive training and undertake learning exchange visits to Alliance linking organisations HASAB in Bangladesh and SASO in India. Both of these organisations have considerable experience of working with women who use drugs.
Following the training, the technical support providers will be funded to deliver 120 days of technical support in the region. This support can be commissioned, via the Alliance Regional Technical Support Hubs in India and Cambodia, by governments, UN agencies, regional technical support structures and civil society organisations delivering IDU programs throughout the Asia region.
Lessons learnt from the program will be synthesised into a good practice report which will be disseminated across the region, and virtual ‘communities of practices’ will be established in order to connect stakeholders involved in delivering programs for people who use drugs across the region to share knowledge and learning.
Organisations interested in finding out more about the program should contact the Alliance Regional Technical Support Hubs in India (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Cambodia (email@example.com).