Launching harm reduction in new sites of Kenya

In 2015 KANCO is planning to scale up harm reduction programme to new sites of Kenya. Nyanza province is an area with the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya and drug use is also on the rise there. After site assessment visit which took place in August 2014 it was decided to start harm reduction programme in Kisumu area (Nyanza). There are some anecdotal evidences that drug use is increasing in the Central Areas of Kenya as well, but partner organisations of KANCO working there do have an access to the networks of people who inject drugs at this moment. In order to decide at which extend harm reduction programmes are needed in Central Kenya, local organisation will start participatory assessment involving people who use drugs to understand the needs of local community and involve people who use drugs into assessment and planning of the programme.

In order to equip representatives from KANCO partner organisations with knowledge and skills enabling them to set up and manage harm reduction programmes, KANCO together with Regional Technical Support Hub for Eastern Europe and Central Asia organised a training “Planning and management of harm reduction programmes” which took place on 2-4 March, 2015 in Nairobi.

Projects managers, outreach workers, peer volunteers from community based organisations received skills and knowledge on the principles of harm reduction and management of harm reduction programme. Most of participants have never been exposed to harm reduction training and worked primarily with general population, sex workers, men who have sex with men. Results of knowledge assessment in the end of the training showed that participants’ knowledge on harm reduction principles improved greatly. Though it was difficult to cover all topics related to managing harm reduction programme during 3 days, participants understood the key principles and showed motivation to apply them in practice. The participants also received a feedback on their project proposals submitted to KANCO.

Based on filled evaluation forms, many participants found an overdose prevention and management session, introduction in harm reduction and needle and syringe exchange programme as the most interesting and useful ones. Several participants mentioned the session about methadone, outreach and risks and vulnerabilities as useful ones as well. They appreciated opportunities to visit drop-in centre for people who use drugs run by NOSET and methadone clinic in Nairobi.