‘Unplugged” Programme in Pakistan

Implemented by KKAWF, the ‘Unplugged’ programme is a science-based instrument designed to develop school-based prevention activities

Programa "Unplugged"

The objective of the programme is to limit the first experiences of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco and other drugs among adolescents. – Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash


Founded in 2015 in Islamabad (Pakistan), the Karim Khan Afridi Foundations is dedicated to informing and raising awareness in Pakistani youth of the sometimes tragic consequences of drug dependency and drug abuse. It was founded by Cristina Von Sperling Afridi and her husband, Ambassador Tariq Khan Afridi, following the death of their son Karim.

The foundation aims to provide information about the deadly consequences of drug abuse for the person, the person’s family and all of society, to break the taboos that still surround drug use, and to enable persons to obtain help. 

The foundation intends to play a catalysing role for youth and the communities in which they live by bringing in federal and provincial agencies to assume their political role in drug production, prevention and consumption.

Hum Saath Hain (We are together)

Given the grave situation as regards drug use in Pakistan (according to UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime], Pakistan has about 6.7 million people use illicit drugs),  the foundation is working to transmit to youth the knowledge and life skills that will enable them to avoid the addiction trap.

Since 2017 the foundation has been implementing a modified version of a European prevention program. Basically, the Unplugged program is a prevention initiative in schools, funded by the European Commission and successfully run in many countries.

Later on, the Pakistan branch of UNODC adapted the program to Pakistan’s specific cultural needs. The Pakistani version of the program is called “Hum Saath Hain“(We Are Together). Like the original version, it is a global program in a school environment for ages 13-16 years that promotes adoption of healthy and positive behaviours while also targeting the prevention of drug abuse. Teachers who participate in the program first receive specific training in the module before transmitting what they have learned to the pupils in their classes.

A programme grounded in science

Unplugged is a scientifically validated tool for drug prevention in schools. Its goal is to limit the first experiences of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco and other drugs in teens and to reduce the risk of transition from experimental use to abuse or dependency. Unplugged is integrated into the school program and various program materials are available to the students.

At the same time, it teaches youth methods for problem-solving, critical thinking, enlightened decision-making and habits that will enable them to better set their own goals. The program tries not only to inform youth and help them develop their social and personal skills, but also to correct misinterpretations and preconceived ideas about drugs.

The program was first introduced in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, before being launched in the district of Gujrat (province du Pendjab). At present the KKAW Foundation is training school teachers who will then be in charge of introducing the program into their respective schools. Unfortunately, due to a lack of repeat funding, it has been impossible to implement the programme at a larger scale.

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