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close this bookIllicit Drugs and the Development Assistance Programme - Strategy paper (DFID, 1999, 18 p.)
close this folderThe response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLaw enforcement and interdiction
View the documentDemand reduction programmes
View the documentAlternative development
View the documentWorking with multilateral organisations
View the documentNon-governmental organisations (NGOs)


12 The issues discussed above point to a range of possible responses. Common threads will be the focus on the poor, and the need to provide them with new opportunities and alternatives while safeguarding their human rights, providing them with access to justice, and also access to treatment where appropriate. A gender focus is important since poor women may often be pressured into joining the drugs trade, e.g. as "mules" working for trafficking organisations. In general, DFID country programme managers, when drafting country strategy papers, should consider the scope for incorporating anti-drugs activities, where the government is pursuing an anti-poverty strategy which includes elements related to drugs control - and the country is important for drugs production and trade.

13 DFID's present anti-drugs activities include strengthening law enforcement institutions, support for demand reduction programmes, and support for alternative development. Bilateral expenditure in 1997/98 was £7.7 million out of total government funding for the international drugs strategy of £16.4 million.

Law enforcement and interdiction

14 In the context of its poverty reduction and human rights objectives, DFID provides assistance to poor countries to improve personal security through community policing, as well as assistance to strengthen the effectiveness of tax collection on international trade. This involves developing the capacity of police and customs services: this general institutional development enhances the capability of the police and customs to deal with illegal drugs production and trading. Most such projects supported by DFID in drugs-producing and trading countries will have an indirect impact on drugs control.

15 Attempts to improve direct interventions to control drugs will only succeed if the institutional capacity of countries' enforcement services have been developed more generally, including in ways addressed by DFID's programmes. Improved intelligence and enforcement techniques, applied in isolation from wider education programmes, would simply score more highly on detecting and imprisoning offenders, without addressing the underlying problems (though there may also be some deterrent effect). Involving communities themselves in self-help initiatives may be crucial. DFID's support in areas other than law enforcement, such as rural livelihoods, infrastructure development, education, etc., will also have a potential beneficial indirect effect on drugs control.

16 Enforcement activities should include building improved capacity to address the organised criminal's response to the growing value of the drugs trade. This response manifests itself in corruption at all levels in society and government; an upward spiral in violent crime as inter-gang turf wars emerge; large-scale financial fraud and money laundering activities to dispose of large liquid capital reserves generated by the trade; and an undermining of national and international confidence in socio-economic and judicial systems. DFID will look for opportunities to engage in activities which address these issues, working with governments which are themselves committed to addressing them, with an emphasis on eliminating problems and distortions as they affect the poor and vulnerable. Action is required in the UK and other richer countries to ensure that their laws are effective against corruption and the movement of illicit funds.

17 DFID provides assistance to all Caribbean countries, including the Overseas Territories, as part of the Caribbean Drugs Initiative (CDI). This is an initiative co-ordinated by the EU and UN International Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) and is aimed at combating the drugs trade. European and other governments are working in partnership with governments in the region. The initiative aims to tackle a range of activities that are needed across the region, including improved planning at national level, policing and customs, demand reduction, treatment and rehabilitation. This programme is the most ambitious and comprehensive attempt so far to tackle the drugs problem in the region. DFID has earmarked £7.5 million as a contribution. This will be used to help build local level capacity in police and customs in some of the more vulnerable Caribbean countries, and to provide support for the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police so that they can provide strong regional leadership. DFID is also taking a lead role in co-ordinating a European Commission/UK funded drugs training project for such agencies in the region.

Demand reduction programmes

18 UK assistance for demand reduction activities has largely been channelled through the UNDCP. Activities in this area aim to raise awareness of the negative health effects of using illicit drugs; to help consumers stop using harmful drugs; and to help former drug abusers to recover. The broad goal is to help people adopt healthier lifestyles which enable them to develop their own potential and their productive capacity in society. Experience has shown that demand reduction programmes are more successful and potentially more sustainable if they are designed with the participation of all the various groups in an affected community. For example, the UNDCP project in Jamaica is based on an integrated community development model and is designed to help alleviate the conditions that promote use of illicit drugs.

19 DFID plans to continue providing support for this type of activity, especially in the context of community development projects which focus on the poorest. There may be scope for introducing demand reduction activities into community-based urban improvement programmes in relevant areas, where there is a commitment on the part of government or local authority to implement pro-poor policies. DFID's interest in continuing to work with UNDCP will depend on our assessment both of UNDCP's overall stance and capacity on delivering pro-poor assistance (see paragraphs 35-37 below), and on individual proposals.

Alternative development

20 'Alternative development'2 must go much wider than crop substitution, to cover broad-based economic, social and institutional assistance to drug producers, often marginal groups of people living on marginal land. It is acknowledged that in the past narrowly focused alternative development projects have not worked because of poor design, a failure to integrate projects with farmers' livelihood strategies, inappropriate technology and poor market links. In the medium to long term, the best prospect for alternative development is pro-poor macro-economic growth which reaches (in some cases because of affirmative measures on the part of government) remote, poor areas; this should be supported by micro-level interventions (e.g. in education, information, infrastructure).

21 Donor support for alternative development can provide political support to governments trying to develop more effective anti-drugs policies (though it is important that donor support be well co-ordinated, with clear, shared objectives). Governments may be encouraged to address the issues affecting drug-producing communities described in paragraphs 7-10 above. Farmers may be prepared to trade higher incomes for increased stability and security. But alternative development must also be closely linked to a policy of interdiction which increases the risk of drug crops production, disrupts the supply chain and thus reduces the returns to the farmer.

22 Among issues to be considered in assessing alternative development projects are the following:

· Alternative development projects often have drug eradication conditionality attached to them, i.e. farmers can benefit from development assistance on condition that they reduce or eradicate drug crops. Views differ on the value of such conditionality. Farmers may reject it on the grounds that it will deprive them of a livelihood until alternative development is proven to work. Conditionality can also lead farmers to identify alternative development projects with repression. Eradication only works when it is voluntary, consensual and accompanied by real alternatives for producers.

· Alternative development projects often take place in a highly charged context involving strong political and economic interests (those of central government, farmers' organisations, drug traffickers, international governments and occasionally terrorist organisations). Such interests greatly increase the risks of alternative development projects.

· Some alternative development projects are targeted to the areas of labour supply for drug crop production, to reduce migration into the area. Such projects are often poorly targeted and limited by difficult conditions and the high degree of geographic dispersion of migrants. In order to reduce the 'balloon effect' (illicit drug cultivation being suppressed in one area only to appear in a neighbouring area) better understanding of on and off-farm needs for income generation is called for.

23 Experience has shown that it is best to work with communal institutions and local governments, rather than individual farmers. The participation of women can often be a crucial factor for success. It would be useful to explore the role which might be played by micro-credit schemes in underpinning alternative development.

24 DFID currently supports alternative development projects in Bolivia (a UNDCP/FAO agroforestry project) and Pakistan (a UNDCP rural development project) and has recently approved support for a UNDCP rural development project in Peru. Given the need for a co-ordinated donor effort, it would be sensible to continue to look for opportunities to co-finance alternative development projects through UNDCP (see paragraphs 35 - 37 below), on the basis of concerted objectives and approaches. Opportunities should be considered on a case-by-case basis, in the context of commitment by partner governments to wider pro-poor strategies.

Working with multilateral organisations

25 An increasingly important element of DFID's anti-drugs strategy should be influencing multilateral programmes, particularly that of the European Community.

26 European Union aid policy recognises the importance of combating drugs. The European Union's Plan to Combat Drugs (1995-1999) and related strategies are founded on a comprehensive and integrated approach to the problem through reducing the supply and demand for drugs. Key elements of a new EU drugs strategy for 2000-2004 were agreed during the UK's EU Presidency in 1998.

27 The European Community is providing support in the following ways:

· A Council Regulation (2046/97) on 'North-South co-operation schemes in the context of the campaign against drug abuse' of 13 October 1997 established the legal base for the budget line which provided for commitments totalling 8.9 mecu (8.9 million ecu, about £5.9 million) in 1998 which support the preparation of national drug control master plans as well as specific implementation measures.

· Assistance for countries in Central and Eastern Europe in their efforts to combat drugs and drugs related crime under the PHARE economic restructuring programme. The EC has committed 33 mecu from 1992 to 1998.

· Technical assistance to support Newly Independent States in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the fight against drugs production and trafficking covering areas such as reinforcing institutional and technical capacity, tackling money laundering, etc.

· Proposals for linking additional trade access to the EU market for Andean countries and Venezuela to conditionality concerning the fight against drugs.

· Support for alternative development through regional programmes, e.g. in Bolivia, Peru and Morocco.

A fuller description of EC support is given in the annex.

28 There is scope for encouraging more commitment to drugs control by the World Bank and regional development banks. The UN Special Session on drugs in June 1998 called on the multilateral banks to do more.

29 Work is most advanced in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which is being called on to take an increasing role in programmes to address the problem of the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs. The Bank provides support specifically through alternative development, prevention efforts, the strengthening of judicial systems and training in banking supervision to detect and prevent money laundering. However, the IDB has not produced a drugs strategy paper drawing together its approach.

30 The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has made some efforts to become more aware of the place of drug control issues in its programmes, and to share information with UNDCP Bangkok, but does not have a coherent proactive policy reflecting the multidimensional nature of the problem and the strategic importance of the subject. The UK has been the most active board member in pushing for drugs issues to be addressed, e.g. in the Bank's long term strategic framework, in selected country operational strategy studies and in country assistance plans. With its heavy involvement in promoting reform, restoring growth and protecting those most affected by the Asian crisis, and its continuing freeze on staff numbers, the ADB may lack the resources to respond adequately at present.

31 The World Bank has consistently failed to produce a statement on its approach to drugs, despite pressure from the UK over the past ten years. In its country assistance strategies, the impact of the drugs industry is not mentioned, even for Latin American countries where the drugs problem may be acute. The Bank does not see itself as having a comparative advantage or expertise in drug reduction, and instead points to the indirect contribution made through its lending for development in many areas (e.g. good governance, health, education and rural investment) that will strengthen the prevention and mitigation of the effects of drug trafficking. Informal contacts suggest, however, that Bank staff working in some areas (notably social development) are beginning to take the issue more seriously. With US support, the UK will now raise the issue as appropriate at board level.

32 Neither the Caribbean Development Bank nor the African Development Bank has attempted to develop a drugs control policy. Both institutions have limited staffing and neither have the skills to make an effective contribution in the drugs area. We are therefore not pressing them to become involved.

33 Against this background and taking into account DFID's priorities and objectives for the multilateral development banks, DFID will encourage the production of drugs strategy papers where appropriate. In addition, DFID will look for opportunities to raise drugs-related issues at the executive boards of the banks in discussion of individual country strategies. As with DFID's bilateral assistance, our objective will be to ensure that drugs control is incorporated as appropriate within anti-poverty programmes to which recipient governments are strongly committed. We shall argue in support of pro-poor approaches which take active account of human rights.

34 As with DFID's own programmes, we should argue for a coherent approach to drugs issues in development programmes financed by the UN. This should be facilitated by the progress being made towards better co-ordination of UN country-level programmes through the UN development assistance frameworks (UNDAFs). Other UN agencies, currently outside the UNDAF process, also have a role, e.g. the World Health Organisation (WHO), which implements a Programme for Substance Abuse to which DFID contributes.

35 UNDCP is, however, likely to remain our principal interlocutor on drugs issues within the UN system. The UN Special Session in June 1998 reaffirmed its role, including as a global centre of expertise, i.e. in research, analysis, monitoring, etc. DFID should work with UNDCP in two parallel strands of activity. First, it should seek to influence UNDCP's approach to ensure that anti-poverty objectives are properly reflected in its core policies. Second, it should continue to look for opportunities to work with UNDCP (including by providing project co-financing or parallel financing, and participation in project steering groups and evaluation missions) in specific countries which are pursuing anti-poverty strategies, with drugs control as an integral element. DFID should favour opportunities for working with UNDCP where there are other donors involved, with UNDCP co-ordinating activities and encouraging a common approach.

36 DFID has no plans at this stage to provide core funding for UNDCP, or to contribute to its (as yet incomplete) 'Global Plan' other than on a country-by-country basis.

37 Donors, including the UK, remain concerned about aspects of UNDCP's management and technical capacity in the field of alternative development. DFID should continue to work, with other interested donors, for improvements. This should include working alongside UNDCP and other donors in the field, in order to improve the focus of activity. UNDCP's capacity merits further scrutiny. A small organisation, it may be stretching its resources over too many countries to be effective at project delivery. Other Whitehall departments which have regular contact with UNDCP and provide funding (FCO and Home Office) should be encouraged to become involved in DFID's efforts in these areas of concern. DFID should also work with other donors to press UNDCP for better co-ordinated evaluation of its own activities, which would be consistent with the role identified for it as a centre of expertise. (The evidence of UNDCP's recent evaluation reports suggest that evaluation methodology is sound.)

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

38 International NGOs such as the Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR), the Transnational Institute and the umbrella group the European NGO Council on Drugs and Development (ENCOD) undertake research and advocacy in the field of drugs and development. Southern NGOs have valuable local experience, especially in demand reduction, alternative development and human rights. DFID will work with these and other organisations of civil society where this is both possible and useful.