Since 2014, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) have strengthened the capacity of West African civil society organisations (CSOs) to address the impact of drug trafficking on governance, democracy, human rights and health through advocacy for effective policy responses and reforms. This process has culminated in the setting up of the West Africa Drug Policy Network.
The West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) is a coalition of more than 600 CSOs from the 16 West African Countries that supports drug policy reform in West Africa by building the capacity of local CSOs to address the impact of drug markets on democracy, governance, human security, human rights and public health. WADPN strategically engages with key stakeholders to improve drug policies in West African countries through building of the capacity of CSOs, raising awareness through public campaign and pushing for reforms.
The network has a regional coordinating team and is comprised of national chapters in the 16 West African countries spearheaded by a national focal point. The national chapters engage their respective governments on evidence-based drug policy reform issues.
Ahead of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, WACSI coordinated national multisectoral consultations to foster discussions among key government stakeholders from the various public institutions involved in drug policy formulation and implementation in Benin, Ghana and Senegal.
These national consultations culminated in a regional consultation and attracted participants from 11 West African countries and gave birth to the West Africa Common Position towards UNGASS 2016 calling for human rights and public health-oriented drug policies with emphasis on harm reduction. The West Africa Common Position was signed and endorsed by 41 government officials and civil society representatives who attended the meeting.
WACSI is providing technical assistance and capacity support to the West Africa Drug Policy Network.
All these efforts have contributed to an increased level of awareness and engagement on drug policy debates and calls for decriminalisation of cannabis and support for harm reduction measures in the region. As a result, approximately 13 West African countries, has been participated every year in the global campaign “Support Don’t Punish”. The campaign called for investment in proven effective and cost-effective harm reduction responses for people who use drugs, the decriminalisation of people who use drugs and the removal of other laws that impede public health services. In addition, the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) have been promoting an open and inclusive debate on drug policy reform at country level across the region.