In West Africa, civil wars have receded, democracy has gained ground and economies are growing. But a destructive and increasing threat is jeopardizing this progress: with local collusion, international drug cartels are undermining countries and communities, and devastating lives. After looking at the evidence, consulting experts from the region and around the world, and visiting some of the most affected countries and communities in the region, the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD) in June 2014, after 18 months of research, released their ground breaking report ''Not just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa''. According to the report, drugs-related problems exist at all levels of society in West Africa and pose a threat to the development of West African countries. As the title suggests, the region is being increasingly destabilised not only by the illicit trade but also by the local production and consumption of drugs.
The results of this analysis shed light on the extent of the illicit trading. The trafficking of cocaine, estimated at 1.25 billion dollars alone, exceeds the national budgets of many states in the region. The WACD report's recommendations present policy makers, donors, civil society and other actors in the region with an invaluable resource to review and reform drug laws. It is within this context that the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) - in partnership with WACD, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), the Kofi Annan Foundation (KAF), the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - organised this ''Media Workshop on Drug Policy in West Africa''.
The main objecives of the workshop were to:
- Raise awareness and understanding of the true nature of drug problem in th region;
- Sensitize key opinion formers about the issues and dilemmas facing people who use drugs, law enforcement officials and politicians; and
- Discuss evidence-based and balanced approaches from Africa and elsewhere and seeks to sharpen journalists' skills in reporting drug related issues across the region.
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