The Project

This project entitled “Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Illicit Drug Trafficking” Related Organised Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa is funded by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund (10th EDF). The project is composed of four expected Results.

 Result 1: Improved ECOWAS Advocacy, Monitoring and Coordination Capacity

 Result 2: Harmonised information on drug abuse epidemiology and data   collection are available

Result 3: Good practices on drug prevention and treatment are identified and   disseminated.

Result 4: Improved law enforcement for an effective combat against transnational     organised crime related to drugs and improved sub-regional, regional       and international cooperation.


Result 1 of the project: Improved ECOWAS Advocacy, Monitoring and Coordination

Capacity is being implemented by the ECOWAS Drug Unit (EDU) under a Grant Contract of Euro 3, 265,958 signed between the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission on 16th February, 2015.

Results 2,3 and 4 of the project is being implemented by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) through a Contribution Agreement signed between the EU and UNODC in January, 2015.

Thus, the project implies a close cooperation between UNODC and the ECOWAS Commission as each results expected from the project is linked to the other, and the success of each is interdependent.

The Financing Agreement for the entire project document – “EU Support to the Implementation of the ECOWAS Drug and Crime Action Plan” to the tune of EUR 16 470 000 was signed between EU and ECOWAS Commission on the 22nd December 2013.


 The Overall Objective of the Project is to contribute to a reduction of drug abuse, illicit drug trafficking and related organised crime in West Africa. The specific objectives of the project are:

Gradually establish a sustained regional capacity within ECOWAS Commission responsible for overall coordination and monitoring of regional initiatives undertaken in the area of illicit drug trafficking, drug abuse and related organised crime problems in line with the ECOWAS Regional Operational Plan.

Empower ECOWAS Member States to implement selected national components of ECOWAS Regional Action Plan to contribute to an effective coordinated regional response to drugs abuse and trafficking and related organised crime problems.The project is consistent with the ECOWAS policies and strategies, in particular with its “Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organised Crimes in West Africa” and its Action Plan to Address Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Drug Abuse (2016-2020). With those two documents, all States in West Africa have re-stated their commitment to fight illicit drug trafficking, related organised crime and drug abuse.



The overall problem being addressed by this project is the increase of drug abuse, drug trafficking and related crime in West Africa. The particular need and constraints that this project is addressing are the limited regional capacity to coordinate, advocate and harmonise national approaches on drug demand and supply, and the need to support ECOWAS Commission and Member States in implementing selected elements of the Drug Action Plan. The Specific challenges in West Africa being addressed by the project are as follows:

  1. Weak Profile of ECOWAS Drug Unit: There is a need to strengthen the profile and capacity of the ECOWAS Drug Unit within the ECOWAS Commission in terms of coordination with all relevant units and departments, and advocacy on drug issues. Enhanced advocacy should increase awareness of MS on the danger of drug trafficking and drug abuse and its regional and transnational aspects, and it should favour the adoption of good practices. Enhanced monitoring and coordination should reduce overlapping of assistance and increase effectiveness.
  2. The lack of reliable and comparable data on drugs in West Africa: This weakness is hindering the development of evidence-based drug policies and programmes in the region. There is a need to obtain reliable epidemiological data on drug in West Africa as a prerequisite to the development of effective anti-drug measures.
  3.  Lack of regional capacity to identify and disseminate best practices on drug demand reduction at regional level, including civil society. Drug abuse is growing in West Africa, and measures to prevent this trend are urgently needed. Drug prevention and treatment measures need to be primarily developed at national level, but a regional approach aimed at disseminating and advocating for best practices adopted by other countries can increase the effectiveness of national programmes. The negative consequences of drug use and increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS (risky sexual behaviour, injecting etc.) require better data. The legal environment is mainly repressive and not conducive to adopting drug use as a health, economic and security issue in line with new global policy. ECOWAS has the role to trigger change in this area and to promote human right-based environment against stigmatisation and discrimination of drug users. Civil society organisations (CSOs), including national and regional networks, are often not coordinated enough, nor supported. The coverage, relevance and impact of their activities not measured. ECOWAS should play a major role in enhancing quality of CSOs activities through Capacity building, Sustainable funding and Impact assessment.
  4.  Weak capacity of the judicial and enforcement authorities and the resulting lack of sub-regional and regional cooperation and coordination against transnational organised crime: Weak capacity is a major reason for the current ineffectiveness of judicial investigations. Judicial cooperation would greatly increase with harmonisation of law enforcement methodologies. The UN Drug Conventions, as well as the Palermo Convention and its protocols, offer harmonised frameworks for law enforcement interventions. There is also a need to reinforce forensic science capabilities as forensic science makes it possible to analyse new substances and assess their therapeutic values while providing objective evidence in support to fair and transparent criminal justice systems. Effective forensic laboratories are central to international cooperation and evidenced based data exchange, which are essential for the investigation of transnational organised crime cases. The challenges posed by drug trafficking and drug abuse require the strengthening of national capabilities in the fields of law enforcement, border control and health. However, to be fully effective and be able to tackle the transnational aspects of drug trafficking and related organised crime, national responses need to be complemented by measures taken at regional level. Such measures include regional coordination, harmonisation of strategies and approaches, facilitation of operational cooperation on transnational issues. The ECOWAS Commission as regional authority must play a key role in increasing the effectiveness of national responses.

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