AFEW International, together with its network members from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) is preparing for AFEW’s Regional autumn school that will take place in Almaty (Kazakhstan) from October 30 till November 3, 2017.

The autumn school as part of the regional approach

The autumn school will provide a platform for learning, exchange, strategizing and planning for community members and NGO partners from 10 different countries. The regional autumn school is an annual event that takes place as a part of ‘Bridging the Gaps’ regional approach of AFEW. Within the regional approach, AFEW International is working towards;

  1. Responses to the situation of access to health and rights for people who use drugs (PUD) in migration;
  2. Improvement of access and quality of rehabilitation programs into more harm reduction friendly services;
  3. The situation of shrinking space for civil society and develop coping strategies to support resilience.

Three assessments on the agenda

As part of the Bridging the Gaps programme AFEW International finalized three assessments according to the regional approach, which means based on the input and expertise of her network members. Some of the results ask for urgent responses. A survey amongst 600 people who use drugs in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan showed that 43% of the respondents have experienced periods of migration to another country in the EECA region, mostly to Russia. From the qualitative interviews in Russia and Kazakhstan with migrant PUD, we can see that people have very little access to health facilities, legal documents and often little options to return to their native country. During the autumn school, AFEW Network members will discuss the full assessment and come up with interventions for the coming two years to build good practices and to advocate for the rights and lives of the community members.

Shrinking space for civil society

An in-depth assessment on the space for civil society organizations, with a special focus on harm reduction and drug policy NGO’s/community networks, has also been conducted. It is clear that the withdrawing of international funding and the shrinking space for civil society form a real threat for the fight against the further spread of HIV in the region and the rights and lives of communities. In the autumn school, the coping mechanisms will be discussed and further steps will be designed to address the conclusions.

Feeding innovative ideas

The third assessment is conducted in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Russia on the state of rehabilitation programs in these countries. This part of the regional approach will be focused at comparing international approaches and standards of rehabilitation towards the actual situation. The aim is to feed in innovative ideas on harm reduction friendly rehabilitation methodologies.

Communication capacity building

To reach sustainability it is important to know and understand effective ways of how to convene messages to a wider audience and how to make use of communications strategies while advocating for the rights and health for their service beneficiaries or their communities.

From the organizational scans that AFEW conducted, it became clear that partners have the need to improve their skills and capacity in communications. Therefore, during the autumn school, there will also be capacity building training for communication staff and for financial officers. This includes workshops on abstract writing for the 22nd International AIDS Conference, AIDS2018 in Amsterdam next year.

AIDS2018

During the autumn school, AFEW International will talk about AIDS 2018. Currently AFEW is publishing bi-monthly newsletters about how Eastern European and Central Asian countries are getting ready for the AIDS2018. The unique information comes from the focal points in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. The latest issue of AFEW’s newsletter is available here, where you can also subscribe to the newsletter.