The Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED) has launched its Peer Education Program for Alcohol & Drug Prevention among Young People in Liberia Project in Grand Bassa County.
Speaking at the program marking the official launch of the project in the county, Grand Bassa County District # 3 Representative, Gabriel B. Smith commended COYPED and partners for selecting Grand Bassa as one of the project targeted areas.
Representative Smith used the occasion to admonish the youth to serve as ambassadors of change in their respective communities an schools stressing that the use of illicit substances take the brain beyond human capacity and allow the users to behave abnormal.
The Grand Bassa County Lawmaker also pledged his office full commitment to the project to ensure the sustainability of the project in the county.
Presenting the overview of the project, COYPED Deputy Director for Programs and Project Management, Joseph F. Wiah, Jr. stated that the project is a peer education engagement to prevent substance use among young people in Liberia stressing that the primary goal of the project is to equip young people able to develop, adopt and sustain healthy attitudes and behaviours towards a drug free Liberia targeting Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.
Mr. Wiah furthered that Twenty (20) peer educators will be trained within Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa respectively, while forty peer educators will be trained within Montserrado due to size of its population.
The COYPED executive also stated that the project will also adopt a youth to youth approach by training peer educators as prevention ambassadors who will work with youths and students in target schools and communities as mentors in the establishment of the alcohol and drug prevention clubs for effective awareness and sensitization campaigns.
Director Wiah stressed that programs will also be developed that target youth and adolescent involved with harmful substance used stating that these programs will basically focus on awareness creation, training and peer counselling so as to discourage and minimize drug abuse among substance users.
According to him, the project will also encourage and involve families and communities in the development and implementation of community based prevention strategies in the project selected counties to ensure that the project is sustained.
For his part, the Grand Bassa County Commander of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, Major Joseph Taggedine stated that there are two commonly used drug in Grand Bassa, marijuana and heroin. He furthered that resident ghettos (people using their homes) is seriously hampering the enforcement operations of the LDEA in the county.
Major Taggedine also stated that LDEA enforcers are finding it difficult due to the many different food that drug is now been sold in. He also pledged his commitment to the project.
Also speaking at the program was the County Coordinator of the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Mr. E. Surprise Whea. He stated that, he was grateful to be part of such a historic event and call on youth in the county to take ownership of the project.
Other national youth groups participated at the Launch event included the Federation of Liberia Youth, Mano River Union Youth Parliament, Bassa Youth Caucus, Liberia National Student Union and the Grand Bassa University Union.
The Launch was followed by a comprehensive peer educator capacity building training on the next day. The training was carryout by well-trained facilitators who presented the materials.
The Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development with support form UNODC is implementing this regional project “Support the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa” from January 2015 – November 2018). This project is fully funded by the EU. The overall objective of this project is to contribute to a reduction of drug abuse, illicit drug trafficking and related organized crime in West Africa through the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan.