The Economic Community of West African States has collaborated with civil society organizations to curb drug and substance abuse in six West African countries.
They include Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Speaking during a training workshop on drug prevention and treatment for the CSOs on Friday in Abuja, the Principal Programme Officer, Law Enforcement (Drugs), Daniel Amankwaah, identified illicit drug trafficking, drug abuse and organised crimes as disturbing obstructions to the achievement of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals.
He explained that the collaboration with the civil groups would help in checking drug menace, noting that the menace cannot be controlled successfully without enlisting the support of the private sector, especially, the CSOs at all levels.
“The good news is that with effective cooperation between United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, the ECOWAS Commission, its member states and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and of course, the support of the European Union, we can successfully act against the drug menace, ” said Amankwaah, who represented the Director, Gender,Youth, CSO and Drug Control, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Sintiki Ugbe.
The Programme Coordinator, UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Cheikh Toure, noted that the workshop was meant to build capacity of CSOs to identify and disseminate best practices to prevent substance use, particularly among vulnerable populations, such as children, adolescents and young adults.
He identified West Africa as the transit hub for illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines bound for Europe and other regions, stressing that communities are suffering from the psychosocial, economic and health consequences of drug abuse.
“This workshop will offer a great opportunity to CSOs for sharing best practices and experiences and to improve specialized expertise in drug prevention. As CSO actors, you have a unique role, as you are involved in grassroots activities, early interventions with youth and vulnerable people,” Toure stated.
In her remarks, the Head of Regional Cooperation Section, EU Delegation, Stefania Marrone, observed that CSOs had shown high interest in tackling drug-related problems, but added that they lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to develop and carry out effective evidence-based prevention interventions.
She said, “At the end of this training, participants will be able to apply evidence-based prevention framework to their daily intervention efforts.”