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Cooperation on alcohol and drug prevention
The Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and FORUT Norway have signed an agreement to cooperate on alcohol and drug prevention in their development programs. The organizations believe that they will enhance the quality of their by work by combining their networks and expertise.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Oslo shortly before Christmas by the Director for International Programmes of NCA, Anne Kristine Sydnes, and the FORUT Secretary General, Morten Lønstad. On this occasion the NCA Director confirmed that the Norwegian Church experiences the impact of alcohol and drug problems in their project areas: – We see that harmful use of alcohol in particular is closely linked to issues that are high on our development agenda; violence against women, HIV/AIDS and poverty. By integrating alcohol and drug prevention components in our programs, we believe that we will enhance the quality of our existing efforts and reach better results. Bu we need specialized competence on alcohol and drug prevention, and this is what we hope to gain from the cooperation with FORUT, said Ms. Sydnes.
The FORUT Secretary General commented this by pointing at the great potential of the broad public health approach of NCA. – In many countries the Norwegian Church Aid is among the biggest donors to health promotion programs. We already know that alcohol is a prominent risk factor to ill-health, and increasingly so in developing countries, said Morten Lønstad. – It is well documented that a given level of alcohol consumption causes greater harm in populations that are marginalized and underprivileged than it would do in more affluent populations.
Mr. Lønstad also said that alcohol related harm is not only a poverty problem. As economic development occurs and people increase their purchasing power, the level of alcohol consumption tends to rise and, with that, also the harm caused by drinking. In this sense alcohol can easily also become a welfare problem in developing countries with economic growth and growing middle classes.
- In FORUT we see the great potential in the close relations that the Norwegian Church Aid has to faith-based organizations in many developing countries. Prevention of alcohol and drugs problems requires leadership and political will, and in many countries church leaders would be natural candidates to take the lead in such issues.
The collaboration between NCA and FORUT was initiated three years ago in Malawi, far away from the headquarters of the two organizations in Norway. FORUT was then a newcomer to Malawi, while NCA was well established as a key contributor to health services. – FORUT soon realized that substance use in Malawi was closely linked to two major issues in the public discussion there, HIV/AIDS and violence against women, says Morten Lønstad of FORUT.