US, UN program teaches livelihood skills to recovering drug users

Published November 24, 2021, 1:52 PM

by Betheena Unite

Individuals recovering from illegal-drug use in Luzon are expected to benefit from a two-year program that will provide them livelihood skills training designed to help them earn a living.

(Photo courtesy of the Ako ang Saklay, Inc. Facebook Page)

The program dubbed “Ako ang Saklay” livelihood program was launched by the United States (US) Embassy in the Philippines and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Nov. 22.

It will be implemented by Ako ang Saklay Inc., a civil society organization from Central Luzon that provides community-based drug rehabilitation.

According to the US Embassy, the group will facilitate livelihood skills training, introduce income-generating opportunities, and secure job placements for recovering drug users from the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City, Valenzuela, and Calamba, and the provinces of Palawan, Cavite, Tarlac, Ifugao, and Nueva Ecija.

The Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is providing P5 million to support the livelihood initiative “as part of a broader program to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on at-risk communities in the Philippines.”

“Livelihood programs, such as those facilitated by Ako ang Saklay, can result in quality-of-life changes for persons who use drugs, their families, and their communities,” INL representative Mark Everson said.

The Ako ang Saklay program boosts local government partners’ capacity to train practitioners on evidence-based treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration approaches. It also supports the right to an adequate standard of living and well-being, including the right to food and livelihood.

“This livelihood initiative will contribute to the comprehensive rehabilitation program of Ako ang Saklay, complementing the whole-of-nation approach by the government, and will eventually provide hope for persons who use drugs and their families,” Fr. Arnold Abelardo, founder of Ako ang Saklay Inc., said.

The funding and support for this program is part of INL’s broader drug demand reduction program in the Philippines, designed to improve awareness, augment use of preventive measures, and engage multisectoral stakeholders in recovery and reintegration efforts for persons with substance use disorder.