Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy for Critical Enablers of the HIV Response for People Who Use Drugs — International Harm Reduction Consortium

Brief summary of the progress:

Decriminalization is the first tasks for budget advocacy project

  • “From street to government” movement has been strengthened by facts which we have been gathering and making public during wider consultation, AIDS2018 and conference for Parliaments members. We use the data to change the drug policy and highlight the message: CEECA countries have money for harm reduction. Government just must to decriminalize drug use and possession and re-direct to healthcare supporting services such as drop-in-centres, shelters, drug checking and safe drug consumption places and other harm reduction services.
  • Criminalization costs – simple assessment conducted by EHRA members to compare state spending on the criminalization of the drug possession in CEECA countries, versus support of person, who uses drugs with social and health care services in freedom.
  • Drug Laws. This tool lets to examine and compare the penalties or other important legal aspects related to core offences of drug use, possession for personal use and supply-related offences across countries in EECA region.

How you can encourage people to stand up for freedom if they have never felt it.

EHRA organized two study visits to Czech Republic and Portugal for experts of people who use drugs community from CEECA & Baltic countries.

In Portugal we started digging into how the Commission for Dissuasion of using drugs works and together with General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) we discussed how Portuguese drug policy experts create the national plan, combine the resources from different sources and support practical decriminalization, but are staying away from de-jure decriminalization of all drugs.

In Czech Republic we learned from international and national drug policy experts how they have been changing drug policy for last two decades. We got advices from experts on what would be next steps for national and regional advocacy process. EuroNPUD & ENPUD members had time and space to work together during the study-visits.

CND 2018. We are here, to listen to our states’ reports.

Experts of community of People who use drugs have used the international meetings to get more knowledge on how they can be involved more effectively in current change of drug policy systems. Thanks to the International Harm reduction Consortium members’ support and strong position of community national leaders, the project team was effectively involved in international drug policy debates, also made new contacts with UN, multilateral donors and officials, who make decision or influence decision makers.

From street to government. Small grants programs’ results:

  • All EHRA national partners are community lead NGOs playing a significant role in joint advocacy campaign on national level.
  • Young Wave Lithuania – first national platform about harm reduction for young people who use drugs. PsyHelp” and harm reduction services were provided at two music festival; organized three trainings for Vilnius city bars/clubs on harm reduction in nightlife settings.  Conference “Reform of the psychoactive substances: support, don’t punish” was organized in the Parliament of Lithuania
  • Association of networks of Harm Reduction in Kyrgyzstan – people who use drugs community lead of the national process to monitoring the negative consequences of the new Code of Misconduct and Crime Code.
  • Your chance Belarus – national organization of people using OST. Your chance leads in the process of changing the laws and practical implementation of OST.
  • White Noise Georgia – For the last four and a half years, White Noise has been creating a hype in society to challenge drug laws in Georgia. White Noise has excellent experience on how to inspire 10 000 people to come together for drug policy changes. 

EHRA, together with national organizations led by people who use drugs / OST patients, have provided descriptions of situations in 5 EECA countries to show how granting the maximum level of authority to law enforcement agencies in terms of influencing harm reduction programs, such as social or medical services, can negatively affect lives of people who use drugs.  Unfortunately, no cases were included in HIV & Law 2018 report. That is also the result to understand that HIV agenda is not ready to include decriminalization of drug use and possession as the main task for ending HIV among people who use drugs.


The goal of the project is to build the capacity of community-based organizations of key populations, foster exchange and partnership between different ISP groups in budget advocacy and HIV resource accountability, help them advocate for national and municipal budgets resources to be allocated to continuum of HIV care for all ISP in EECA. The tools and experience developed within this project will be applicable to the entire EECA region.

 Project objectives:

  • Advocate for sufficient and sustainable funding of responses to HIV, which addresses the needs of ISP.
  • Build the capacity of regional networks and their members who represent PWUD, MSM, TG and PLWH and those who work in their interest in EECA in advocating for sustainable funding of responses to HIV, which addresses the needs of ISP.

Countries covered by project: Eastern and Northern Europe, the Baltic Countries and Central Asia

Project timeline: October 2017 – December 2018

Budget of EHRA: 105 613 USD (in 2017 – 32 126 USD; in 2018 – 73 486 USD)

Budget of ENPUD: 21 044 USD (in 2017 – 6 401 USD; in 2018 – 14 643 USD)

Project donor: Robert Carr Network Fund

Project status: completed

From street to government (Part I): International advocacy for progressive drug policy

From street to government (Part II): National levels advocacy for progressive drug policy within International Harm Reduction Consortium 

Georgia: White Noise Movement input

Lithuania: Young Wave Small grant results 

Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan Association of Network of Harm Reduction 2017-2018

Belarus: Your chance Belarus results