The initiative Data for Africa has the overall objective to improve the knowledge on drugs and crime phenomena in Africa. The programme will enhance the capacity of African countries to collect and analyse data and trends in drugs, crime and victimization. Specifically, the programme will assist member states in Africa to generate better data and information on drugs and crime, strengthen data collection, analysis and reporting at the national, regional and international level.
The Programme will also provide a regional platform for exchange of data, information and experiences
Although the challenge for good and regularly collected data all over Africa is still enormous, the awareness raised through surveys, trainings and workshop under Data for Africa will result in a better coordination among involved services in each country. This will necessarily help increase the number of African countries responding to the periodic United Nations Crime Trends Survey (CTS) and Annual Reports Questionnaire (ARQ).
Data for Africa is carried out in close collaboration with the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders ( UNAFRI).
Although one fifth of the world's population lives in Africa and more than a quarter of all countries in the world are in Africa, the continent is, by far, the least documented region in terms of data and information on crime and drugs. Many African Governments are unable to supply information on the situation of drugs and crime in their country, including information requested by international drug and crime control treaties.
Even where figures are available, very often, due to limited capacities and resources of national authorities, they do not reflect the actual scale and extent of the problem.
In 2004, only 24 out of 53 countries (45 per cent) responded to the annual reports questionnaire, although the submission of such reports is mandatory under the provisions of the international drug control treaties. For crime data, the situation appears to be even bleaker. Only 7 out of 53 African countries (about 13 percent) responded to the Ninth United Nations Crime Trends Survey in 2006.
However the current figure of crime data displays an encouraging increase of responses as shown below. Nine (9) countries have answered so far to the 10th CTS and many others are currently working on collecting data in this respect.
The absence of reliable information contributes to the limited attention devoted to solving crime and safety problems in the region which, in turn, may hamper the development of properly targeted technical assistance. The lack of data collection systems also negatively impacts overall development of African countries and all efforts by African Governments and the international community to reverse the situation ( Crime and Development in Africa, Unodc, 2005). It is to address these problems that the programme Data for Africa was launched in 2005.