In the latter part of February 2021, Senegal organised a workshop to validate the new National Strategic Plan on Drug Control that covers the period of 2021 – 2025. Subsequently, an appropriation workshop was held from 6th to 8th October 2021 to promote ownership of the Strategic Plan by the actors involved in drug control and define an implementation plan, both technical and financial.
The development of the Strategic Plan and the two workshops were spearheaded by Inter-ministerial Committee for Drug Control (CILD) and supported by other national agencies such as the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking (OCRTIS), the Ministry of Health, the Directorate-General for Economic Planning and Policies (DGPPE), the Legislative Services Directorate of the General Secretariat of the Government, security forces, including the Police, Gendarmerie and Customs. Civil society representation and involvement accounted for through CEPIAD (Integrated Addiction Care Centre of Dakar), ANCS (National Alliance of Communities for Health), FONSELUD (National Federation of NGOs working on Drugs), African Network against Drugs, Violence and AIDS (RADOVIS), among others.
The new National Strategic Plan on Drug Control has been developed to guard the vision of a drug-free society for sustainable and harmonious development in Senegal. The document aims at reducing illicit drug trafficking and its use in Senegal from 2021 to 2025. The Strategic Plan is set under the guiding principles of commitment and leadership at the highest level, results-oriented management, public health and human rights approach, gender mainstreaming in drug control response, inclusivity and participatory approach, and transparency and accountability. Furthermore, the Strategic Plan is anchored on four (4) pillars which seek to; (a) strengthen the legal and institutional framework to address drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, (b) strengthen the capacities of actors, (c) reduce drug supply and demand, and (d) improve communication on the national drug control system.
Under the first pillar, the strategy is committed to two objectives.
The first is to revise and improve upon current legislative and regulatory texts particularly, Law No. 97-18 of the Drugs Code, adopted in December 1997 (and amended by Law No. 2007-31 in December 2007). The revision will prioritise alternatives to incarceration and equally, establish an appropriate legal framework for harm reduction programmes and treatment for people who use drugs (PWUDs). The second objective is to strengthen the institutional framework by restructuring relevant governmental bodies/agencies responsible for drug control such as CILD, establishing a medico-judicial unit, setting up the Senegalese Observatory on Drugs and Addictions (OSDA), setting up mental health units in all the regions, and developing a consultative framework for all actors involved in drug control.
The second pillar supports strengthening the capacities of all actors involved in drug control. The Strategic Plan ensures the strengthening of the operational and technical capacities of the defence and security forces, care service providers, as well civil society. Additionally, the document pushes for the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while implementing means to promote research.
The third pillar focuses on the reduction in drug supply and demand. The Strategic Plan calls for improved support for people who use drugs highlighting the need for their socio-economic reintegration. It continues to seek a reduction in the prevalence of HIV among people who inject drugs and in barriers impeding the respect of human rights and gender balance, whilst promoting alternative development. The education of the general public on the harms of drugs and challenges associated with drug control is also prioritised under this pillar.
The fourth pillar of the strategic plan aims at improved communication on the national drug control system. The document proposes the development and implementation of a national communication plan, as well as strengthening communication mechanisms to foster an effective and coordinated approach in communication at all levels.
The West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) acknowledges this giant approach by Senegal towards an effective drug control response that embodies human rights, public health, security and alternative development. The West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) wishes to particularly commend the Inter-ministerial Committee for Drug Control (CILD) in its determination to join the new era of drug policy reform in West Africa. WADPN further extends its appreciation to other government agencies and civil society organisations that contributed to this initiative.