UNODC Eastern Africa – Illicit Drugs

Illicit Drugs and Eastern Africa


There is growing trafficking of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) into and through Eastern Africa, combined with emerging trafficking of precursors. The international airports in Nairobi, Kenya, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are key entry points for illicit drugs into the region, primarily due to the frequent commercial flights from Asia and the Middle East. The seaports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa are also entry points favoured by drug traffickers.

Key causes for the growing trafficking include: (i) Eastern Africa and Africa as a whole constitute a growing market for illicit drugs; (ii) frequent international flights; (iii) inadequate trafficking controls make Eastern Africa–a convenient transit point for drug trafficking to the African continent at large, Europe and North America; and (iv) corruption amongst some law enforcement and customs officers based at the seaports and airports.

Moreover, prescription drugs are available over-the-counter at licensed pharmacies, and at illegal retail outlets and the street market. This poses a serious health and social economic problem and undermines confidence in public health services.

Licit drug control and inspection procedures are largely inadequate and ineffective throughout Eastern Africa. Some countries have shown a commitment to carry out inspections on the distribution channels but have inadequate inspection capacities. Licit drugs and precursor chemicals imported for domestic medical and scientific use are also diverted through theft and fraud from the drug supply chain into the illicit markets. Leakage from the official supply chain deprives the public health systems of much required drugs for alleviating pain and suffering. The weak control of imports also brings about sub-standard or counterfeit medicines into the markets which aggravates the situation.

To address some of the above concerns, UNODC Eastern Africa is implementing a project against trafficking in the airport of Addis Ababa. The project is currently making arrangements to design and deliver a structured training programme for police, customs and immigration officers as well as other institutions as appropriate on basic drug law enforcement techniques for the participating authorities. The project is aimed at improving law enforcement efforts to counter organized crime in general by enhancing the training capacities of the police college by reviewing the training syllabus and providing computer-based training.

In addition, UNODC Eastern Africa has stepped up activities against money laundering in the subregion by working with government authorities in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by providing training and computers for computer-based training for the investigation of money-laundering cases. Consultations have also been held with governmental authorities to establish FIUs in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. UNODC Eastern Africa has also launched a project aimed at reducing incidences of terrorism, financing of terrorism, and money-laundering in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. There is also a move to extend the pilot of the computer-based training course that was started with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission in May 2006 to include the Kenya Customs. [
More on Money Laundering]

Ongoing Projects

Prevention of drug use and HIV among drug users, IDUs and vulnerable populations in Kenya

Strengthening the interdiction and investigation techniques of the Ethiopian law enforcement drug trafficking

Programme development and advocacy for drug demand reduction and HIV/AIDS in Africa

Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention


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