UNODC ROSEN holds a webinar on the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ) to improve data collection on drugs in West and Central Africa


West and Central Africa is an important transit point for drug trafficking, particularly for cocaine, hashish, and pharmaceutical opioids. Over 45 tons of cocaine were seized in going to or from West and Central Africa since 2019 (map 1) and over 36 tons of hashish were seized since the beginning of the year. Between 2015 and 2019, West Africa accounted for 86% of all the world seizures of pharmaceutical opioids.

Map 1: Main cocaine trafficking routes as described in reported seizures, 2015-2019 (Source: WDR 2021)

West and Central Africa is also one of the regions where drug-related data is the most scarce (map 2). Few states participate in UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data collection tools such as the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ). The ARQ, which was adopted by Member States at the United Nations 53rd session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs, provides a framework for Member States to report data on drug abuse in accordance with the international drug control conventions. In 2020, five of the 23 states in West and Central Africa submitted their ARQ. 

Map 2: Countries reporting data on drugs to UNODC through the ARQ, 2020 (source: WDR 2021)

As part of the UNODC mandate to collect data on illicit drugs and transnational organized crime, the Research and Awareness Section of the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa, in collaboration with UNODC headquarters in Vienna, organized a webinar to familiarize focal points with filling out the ARQ. The event was held on Wednesday, September 29, with close to 30 participants, including from Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Mozambique, as well as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.

As Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative, declared “it is key to assist all stakeholders involved in the process of filling out the ARQ, and to provide technical and financial support to countries in West and Central Africa in order to establish drug information systems.”

During the webinar, Member states representatives had the opportunity to stress the importance of establishing networks of experts and coordinating regular meetings to ensure data sharing at the national level. The UNODC team present also stressed the importance of having accurate and up-to-date data in order to design the most relevant public policy recommendations. Sharing facts on drugs saves lives!