The European programme COPOLAD collaborates in a pioneering initiative in Chile to tackle complex challenges such as drug use among minors under the guardianship and protection of the State
The first Social Innovation Laboratory dedicated to tackling drug use among children and adolescents under the guardianship and protection of the State has been carried out in Chile. It has been the result of the sum of knowledge and experiences of the cooperation programme between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union on drug policies (COPOLAD III), the Chilean National Service for the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption (SENDA) and Agirre Lehendakaria Center, a social innovation laboratory linked to the University of the Basque Country.
Two collective interpretation sessions have taken place in the region, focused on collectively contrasting the information generated by the local teams in the first phase of the laboratory’s listening and mapping process. Authorities and institutions such as the Ministry of Health or the Specialised Protection Service for Children and Adolescents, as well as international organisations such as UNICEF and relevant community agents have participated. Likewise, staff from family residences, drug prevention programmes, health and education professionals, the Paréntesis Foundation, the La Escalera programme and the Mi Abogado programme have also participated.
The Director of SENDA, Natalia Riffo, and the Undersecretary for Children, Verónica Silva, insisted on the need to coordinate the work between the institutions involved. They also pointed out the importance of designing new strategies or governance systems that can be replicated in the rest of the country and that are capable of adapting to local realities: “The average does not work, we must be capable of providing differential responses”.
The participants highlighted the importance of incorporating mechanisms to understand the role that consumption plays in the population from a broader and more comprehensive perspective. In connection with this idea, several participants considered it interesting to continue experimenting with the harm reduction approach or the diversification of the thresholds of demand in the centres.
Likewise, two contradictory narratives were identified as to who is responsible for consumption; whether it is a phenomenon that should be dealt with at an individual or institutional level or, on the contrary, whether it transcends the community in a broad sense. The participants agreed that it is necessary to activate new listening channels to incorporate the voice of children and the community systematically in the design of interventions. It was concluded that, given that the aim is to prevent the community from becoming an enemy, stigmatisation must be eliminated.
Collective interpretation sessions provide a space for sharing different ways of perceiving the same problem. Repeated over time, they can help to generate shared visions and a deeper analysis of the critical points on which to focus public policy strategies in terms of social innovation. This analysis will serve as a basis for the process of co-designing solutions that will take place in the coming months.
The aim is to ensure that the strategies developed by the teams incorporate the capacity to respond to the different narratives operating in the territory and to adapt to changes, thus generating flexible governance systems to address complex challenges such as drug use among minors under state care.