Drug demand reduction in Africa
The drug problem continues to take a high toll on national development. Besides disrupting legitimate economic activities, it is a major factor at the centre of highly lucrative transnational organized criminal activities, the illicit proceeds of which are a source of insecurity and fuel high-profile corruption. The rampant abuse of drugs has resulted in health challenges, particularly affecting young people in Africa, where countries face difficulties in implementing detection and control mechanisms for drug-related offences.
The problem of drug and substance abuse has intensified into an epidemic with serious health consequences, requiring accelerated efforts towards treatment and prevention. A total of 38 African Union member States were represented by their national drug control experts at a unique technical consultation in Kampala in February 2013 to discuss drug demand reduction in Africa.
The experts reinforced their resolve to fight the problem through treatment and prevention initiatives, consistent with the revised African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control (2013-2017). Guided by specific professional interventions by
experts from relevant international organizations spearheaded by the African Union Commission, the Institute, UNODC, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific, the experts identified the need for strategic
action in priority areas, including:
(a) Conduct a rapid assessment survey of the situation regarding drug use and response capacity and needs, as requested by countries, including Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe;
(b) Conduct national drug use surveys to identify the prevalence rate and patterns of drug use in the general population or in school settings, as requested by Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.
The revised African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control (2013-2017), which was adopted in October 2012, endorsed the need for capacity-building in research and data collection through strengthening institutions to respond to the
challenges of illicit drug use and facilitate the legitimate use and movement of narcotic drugs and controlled substances for lawful and justifiable causes.
The Institute has approached the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the African Union Commission and UNODC with a request to continue collaboration to respond to the identified needs of African countries.
The fight against drugs will continue to depend on strong and relevant policies that are judiciously enforced, strengthening the law, sensitizing local communities and providing both technical support for capacity-building and alternative economic programmes to boost employment of young people. The mandate of the Institute
offers prospects for guiding the necessary reforms in this matter.