Research and awareness
West and Central Africa is at the crossroad of multiple forms of trafficking: from drug trafficking to trafficking in persons, gold, firearms, fuel and medical products. On drugs for instance, recent analyses highlight a surge in cocaine seizures between 2019 and 2021, increased illicit trafficking of medical products, the rise of non-medical use of opioids, one of the highest rate of cannabis consumption in the world, and a potential 40% increase of drug users in Africa by 2030. Organized crime is undermining stability and development in the region, providing fertile grounds for armed groups, including violent extremist groups.
Reliable data is the cornerstone to evidence-based and result oriented programming and policy making on drugs and crime. In West and Central Africa, fragility, conflicts and violence impact research and data collection in multiple ways:
Some of the main barriers to data production, collection, analysis and dissemination include:
The unavailability of data on some areas in the absence of surveys or studies at the national level ;
The absence of centralized reporting mechanisms to facilitate the collection of data from different ministries and institutions, such as law enforcement agencies and various ministries ;
The need to strengthen coordination between different institutions collecting data and the importance to build synergies between different data collection tools, particularly at national, sub-regional and international levels ;
The limited human and financial resources in charge of data collection.
In line with the UNODC Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, UNODC provides spearheading analysis on drugs and crime in West and Central Africa to inform evidence-based responses to criminal threats and tailored-made policies at national and regional level. UNODC produces comprehensive analytical studies on regional trends and feeds information and analysis on the region in global research outputs such as the World Drug Report, the Drug Monitoring Platform, the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons and the Global Study on Firearms.
UNODC supports Member States in the region to meet their reporting obligations under drugs and crime related conventions by providing technical expertise and organising capacity building workshops on data production, collection analysis and dissemination.
Moreover, UNODC conducts in depth research projects on transnational organized crime and violent extremism, identifies emerging threats, and disseminates research findings through various research products, including leaflets, reports, confidential briefings, and at conferences with a wide array of stakeholders.
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (TOCTA) Sahel
An important step to strengthening policies against organized crime is to improve the understanding of its scope and of the ways it operates. While progress has been made, it is clear that further work is needed in the region to better understand the nature and dynamics of organized crime.
The Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment for the Sahel covers criminal markets in G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), including gold trafficking, drug trafficking, trafficking in medical products, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons, firearms and fuel trafficking.
Prevention of Violent Extremism in prisons in Senegal, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin
With the growing number of armed group attacks on coastal countries, the number of people arrested on terrorism related charges has been increasing, raising concerns about radicalization to violence in prisons.
UNODC is building the capacity of prison administrations in managing violent extremist prisoners in the Francophone coastal countries, in line with the UNODC Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Violent Radicalization in Prisons and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules).
At the crossroads of licit and illicit: Tramadol and other pharmaceutical opioids trafficking in West Africa, 2021;
Research Brief on COVID-19-related Trafficking of Medical Products as a Threat to Public Health, 2020.