Building a network in West Africa


Building a network in West Africa

26 February 2015

The full report of the workshop is now available here.

In February, IDPC collaborated with the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI), the Kofi Annan Foundation and the West African Commission on Drugs to deliver a two-day civil society workshop on drug policies in West Africa. Around 40 participants attended the capacity building event in Accra, Ghana – including colleagues from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The event was funded through grants from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and USAID.

The objectives of the workshop were to: build the capacity of key civil society partners from the region; strengthen their knowledge of drug policies and best practice; share experiences; showcase and discuss the ground-breaking report from the West Africa Commission; and further develop a West African Drug Policy Network (a process which started in parallel to the West Africa Commission’s work in 2013/2014).

As well as presentations from the Commissioners present (Idrissa Ba from Senegal, Alpha Abdoulaye Diallo from Guinea, Christine Kafando from Burkina Faso, and Adeolu Ogunrombi from Nigeria), Jamie Bridge and Marie Nougier from IDPC took participants through a series of activities and presentations. Topics covered included: current drug policies, balanced drug policies, harm reduction, drug use prevention, effective drug treatment, and the UNGASS. Participants also worked together to develop national advocacy work plans – including events on the Support Don’t Punish “Global Day of Action” on June 26th.

The workshop was well received, and has already led to national-level civil society meetings and networking to further develop and discuss advocacy plans for more effective and humane drug policies. With the assistance of WACSI, there was also a lot of media coverage from the workshop on the West Africa Commission calls for the decriminalisation of drug use and for better drug policies in the region.

The West Africa Drug Policy Training Toolkit, on which this workshop was based, will be launched soon on the IDPC website – and is a regional adaptation of the Drug Policy Training Toolkit that was launched in 2013. You can also view the photos from the workshop here. Two further workshops are planned in West Africa this year as part of our partnership with the West Africa Commission on Drugs – one for journalists in the summer, and a follow-up meeting for the West African civil society network in the autumn.

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