Civil Society workshop on drug policy opens
Accra, Feb. 11, GNA - Civil Society Organisations (CSO) from all member states of the Economic Commission for West Africa on Wednesday, converged in Accra to brainstorm and strategise on practical measures to combat the drug menace in the sub-region.
The two-day Drug Policy workshop attracted about 40 participants, including representatives from CSO, professional associations, coalitions and networks, amongst others.
It was expected to among other things, strengthen their capacity to be able to engage and advocate on issues of drug policy, drug prevention and treatment, harm reduction, security and governance in West Africa.
Mr Guillio Cintron, the Senior Programme Management Specialist with the Regional Peace and Governance Office of the USAID in West Africa, said although the seeming recess of national conflicts, particularly civil war, provides a glimpse of hope that West Africa is gaining regional stability.
However, a destructive new threat was jeopardising the seeming progress, devastating lives and ruining the socio-economic progress of countries in the sub-region.
According to him trafficking of cocaine, estimated at 1.25 billion dollars, alone, exceeded the national budgets of many states in the region, with international drug cartels undermining West African countries and communities and lives.
He said drug-related problem currently exists on all levels of society, and the independence of governance systems and security institutions were at risk of being undermined by corruption and organized crime.
The workshop was therefore hosted by the West African Civil Society Initiative (WACSI) in collaboration with the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), with support from the United States Agency for International Development, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Kofi Annan Foundation, to address some of the challenges.
Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, the Executive Director of WACSI, said the workshop forms part of a regional project to disseminate the recommendations from a WACD research report titled 'Not Just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa'.
According to her, the workshop would also create the space to strengthen and consolidate the collaborative efforts through the setting up of a West African CSO Drug Policy Network to holistically tackle the drug menace.
Mr Jamie Bridge, the Senior Policy and Operations Manager of the IDPC, said the report showed that the drug menace posed a new threat to the development of West African countries and therefore must be tackled with much seriousness to halt its devastating impact on both the socio-economic and health of nations.
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