Educate, empower & engage Young people


Young people, particularly marginalised youth, are vulnerable to engaging in risky drug using and sexual behaviour that may lead to a number of harms. Young people who use drugs are often discriminated against reducing employment and education opportunities.  Marginalisation is often exacerbated by misguided policies that further harms rather than protecting and supporting health and development.

The project aimed to address this issue in Portugal, Mexico, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan with three components: peer education targeted at young people from vulnerable communities; policy analysis and engagement; and the development of a network and sharing of good practices through an online platform.


To promote healthy behaviours of young people, particularly those from vulnerable communities through peer education and youth policy that promotes health and wellbeing of vulnerable youth.


  • Increase young people’s knowledge on drug use, sexual health and HIV prevention;
  • Enable young people to make informed choices about their drug use and sexual behaviour through skills development;
  • Provide positive experiences for young people which contribute towards their personal development;
  • Raise awareness of policies that impact young people, encourage critical thinking and participation, and develop policy recommendations.
  • Create a sustainable global network of youth organisations to share good practices.


  • 80 young people from 4 countries trained on HIV prevention, sexual health, reduction of drug related harm;
  • Skills gained in promoting healthy behaviours in their community, leadership skills, peer education;
  • 80 participants trained on policy development and critical analysis of policies that impact them;
  • Policy recommendations developed in 4 countries by young people;
  • Online platform for networking and sharing of good practices developed;
  • Sustainable network of youth organisations created.


Peer education training guide
This guide was the result of an education programme implemented in 4 partner countries.  Peer education is a well-established method of improving knowledge and reducing risky behaviours amongst young people, particularly marginalised youth and those especially vulnerable to risky drug taking and/or risky sexual behaviour.  Peers are a trusted and credible source of information, sharing similar experiences and social norms and are therefore better placed to provide relevant, meaningful, explicit and honest information.  Particularly around taboo subjects such as drugs and sex, young people often feel more comfortable sharing information among people of the same age group rather than from adults.  It also reaches young people who may not be in the formal education system, and/or addresses topics that are not addressed in the formal education system in many countries.

In order for peer educators to give appropriate information to their peer networks they must be well informed. As part of the “Educate, Empower and Engage for Healthy Lives” project, a peer education guide was developed which provides a framework for training to be provided to peers on three components: knowledge, communication skills, and self-development. The knowledge component will relate to increasing knowledge of drug prevention and safer drug use, HIV prevention, sexuality, safer sex and sexual health. The communication component involves a combination of specific skills training, assertiveness training, the opportunity for practice and feedback, and increased self-esteem. Participants will also gain skills on how to talk about sexuality and drug use and how to communicate clearly with peers in their network whom they are providing information. The self-development component of the training will also offer a greater understanding of sexuality, gender, relationships, sexual orientation, drug use and HIV/AIDS on a personal level.  They will gain better understanding and appreciation of human difference, including the dynamics of prejudice and discrimination.  The training guide will also involve development of leadership skills and foster teamwork.


Briefing papers:

The four project partners each created a briefing paper aaddressing the theme of how drug policy impacts upon young people

  • Ganesha produced a paper on drug policy and the its upon young people in Kyrgyzstan. Downoad here
  • Our project partners in Portgual produced a paper highlighting the impact upon young people of Portugal’s drug policy legislations. Download here
  • Espolea in Mexico produced a paper exploring the impact of the drug violence in Mexico on young people. Download here
  • In Nigeria, the impacts of drug policy on the health and human rights of young people who use drugs in West Africa was examined. Download here

Recommendations papers:
Four policy workshops were held with young people in 2014 exploring how national drug policies impact upon young people and young people who use drugs. To conclude their workshops, the young participants developed a set of recommendations based on their policy analysis and discussions. The key recommendations they developed provide responses on how to improve the policy framework and the health services for young people. This component of the project promoted critical thinking and active youth participation in policy dialogue and development.

Download here: Nigeria

Download here: Portugal

Download here: Mexico (English version) (Russian Version)

Download here: Kyrgyzstan (English version) (Russian Version