Alternative Development programmes, aimed at encouraging peasants to switch from growing illicit drugs-related crops, play an important role in UN drug control strategies. The record of success, however, is a questionable one. Decades of efforts to reduce global drug supply using a combination of developmental and repressive means, managed to shift production from one country to another, but have failed in terms of global impact. TNI argues for delinking alternative development from the threat of forced eradication and law enforcement and guaranteeing peasants the support required for a sustainable alternative future.

  • UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development

    Coletta Youngers
    Friday, November 9, 2012

    In November 2011 I was invited by the Thai government to take part in an international delegation to develop a set of UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. Our work began with a five-day journey along the Thai-Burma border to see first-hand the development programs that have been successful in virtually eliminating poppy production in that country. Over 100 government officials and experts from 28 countries visited the Thai “Royal Project,” which has research stations and development projects in five Northern provinces of the country.

  • Financing Dispossession - China’s Opium Substitution Programme in Northern Burma

    Kevin Woods Tom Kramer
    Transnational Institute
    February 2012

    China’s opium crop substitution programme has very little to do with providing mechanisms to decrease reliance on poppy cultivation or provide alternative livelihoods for ex-poppy growers. Financing dispossession is not development.

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  • Report of the workshop portion of the International Workshop and Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD)

    The International Workshop and Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD)
    November 16, 2011

    The present report has been prepared pursuant to Commission on Narcotic Drugs resolution 53/6 entitled “Follow-up to the promotion of best practices and lessons learned for the sustainability and integrality of alternative development programmes and the proposal to organize an international workshop and conference on alternative development” and resolution 54/4, entitled “Follow-up on the proposal to organize an international workshop and conference on alternative development”.

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  • USAID's Alternative Development policy in Colombia

    A critical analysis
    Ricardo Vargas
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 38
    October 2011

    Alternative Development (AD) must not be part of a militarised security strategy, which is the predominant approach in Colombia. Instead of simply attempting to reduce the area planted with illicit crops, Alternative Development programmes should operate within the framework of a rural and regional development plan.

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  • Alternative development from the perspective of Colombian farmers

    Susana Ojeda
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 36
    May 2011

    Alternative Development programmes have been widely discussed from the point of view of experts, technocrats, politicians and academics, with advocates and detractors debating whether such programmes contribute to decreasing the cultivation of illegal crops. However, little is known about the opinions of the people targeted by these programmes and the implications that they have for their daily lives.

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  • The 'miracle of San Martín' and symptoms of 'alternative development' in Peru

    Hugo Cabieses
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 34
    December 2010

    The Peruvian government has presented the “Miracle of San Martin Model” as the path to follow to achieve drug supply reduction. However a closer look reveals that the model is not replicable, not ecologically sustainable, and won't remedy the ‘symptoms of alternative development’.

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  • Alternative Development or Business as Usual?

    China’s Opium Substitution Policy in Burma and Laos
    TNI Drugs Policy Briefing Nr. 33
    November 2010

    The Chinese Government's opium substitution programmes in northern Burma and Laos have prompted a booming rubber industry, but the beneficiaries have been a small few with many others losing their lands as a result.

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  • An Assessment of the Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Sustainable Alternative Development

    Key Determinant Factors for Opium Poppy Re-cultivation in Southeast Asia
    Tom Kramer
    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
    May 2010

    This study looks at the impact of the global economic crisis on alternative development initiatives in the Golden Triangle region, but also identifies the key determinants of opium poppy re-cultivation as well as possible solutions. Governments in the region have adopted national policies and strategies to counter the problem, however long-term political and financial commitment together with increased international support will be required to address the issue.

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  • Development First

    A More Humane and Promising Approach to Reducing Cultivation of Crops for Illicit Markets
    Coletta Youngers John Walsh
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    March 2010

    Development First demonstrates why it is no coincidence that policies that worsen poverty and undermine governance cannot achieve their drug control aims. This report identifies ten lessons learned for promoting alternative livelihoods, based on decades of evidence in countries from Thailand and Burma to Afghanistan and the Andes. Among the lessons is that proper sequencing is crucial: development must come first. Also, development assistance should not be made contingent on the prior elimination of coca or poppy crops. As has been the case in Colombia, such policies deny aid to precisely those communities most dependent on growing crops for illicit markets and in greatest need of assistance.

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  • From Golden Triangle to Rubber Belt?

    The Future of Opium Bans in the Kokang and Wa Regions
    Tom Kramer
    TNI Drugs Policy Briefing Nr. 29
    July 2009

    In the Kokang and Wa regions in northern Burma opium bans have ended over a century of poppy cultivation. The bans have had dramatic consequences for local communities. They depended on opium as a cash crop, to buy food, clothing, and medicines.

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