Civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa have been urged to effectively strategise and work together and with their respective governments to influence better policies aimed at addressing the drug problem in the region.
Members of the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) were invited to influence their governments to take a common position to counter the ‘war on drugs’, which is considered to be a failed approach to address the drug problem in the region.
“We have a huge task ahead. As we target UNGASS to get more of our governments to support our agenda and make political commitments at the global level but also come home to domesticate and implement them, we must bear in mind the fact that it will take more than the ordinary to get us what we want and we must be prepared”, said Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).
She made this call as national focal points of WADPN convened in Dakar, Senegal from October 13 to 16 to deepen their understanding of the drug problem in the region and brainstorm on a common position towards UNGASS 2016.
This convening created a forum for the capacity of participating organisations to be enhanced on emerging issues related to drug policy, drug prevention and treatment, harm reduction, security and governance and effective advocacy.
On October 15 and 16, sixteen focal points of the WADPN from all West African countries participated in a Networking and Alliance Building organised by the WACSI. They were equipped with tactics and strategies to effectively work with national member organisations and with other national platform members in other West African countries. This was to strengthen the network, empower focal points to manage the network effectively and leverage on the network to achieve common goals before, during and post UNGASS, that will enable governments to avoid strategies that promote the ‘war on drugs’.
“The war on drugs has torn families apart for decades; it is counterproductive and devastating to families’, said Maria Goretti-Ane Africa Consultant for the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).
“It is for this that we at IDPC try to promote objective and an open debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at the national and international levels”, she added.
The workshop was organised by the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD), West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Kofi Annan Foundation (KAF).