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.