IOGT Members Help Birth West African Alcohol Policy Alliance
Civil society in West Africa is stepping up to tackle alcohol as obstacle to development and counter-act the aggressive push of multinational alcohol companies into the region’s countries. 10 civil society organization and one research center, from 6 countries, joined forces and formally established the West African Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAPA). 6 of the NGOs are member organizations of IOGT International.
The formation of WAAPA was preceded by the creation of GhanAPA, the Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance – after a country visit by IOGT International President Kristina Sperkova and IOGT International Board member Brenda Mkwesha in Ghana with member organization and a strategy and advocacy workshop.
Alcohol harm burdens society massively, putting a serious toll on public health, the environment, the economy and sustainable development. Alcohol harm is pervasive and set to increase with rising alcohol consumption in Ghana.
Recognizing the national, regional and the global priority on curbing alcohol harm, the West African Alcohol Policy Alliance is determined and working towards the achievement of the global, regional and national targets and priorities, laid out in the WHO NCDs Global Action Plan as well as the WHO Global Alcohol Strategy.
Furthermore, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strongly recognize alcohol use as an obstacle to development that must be addressed within the work to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
The process of forming WAAPA commenced years ago but it gained new momentum in 2016 at UNDP-WHO workshop in Gaborone, Botswana, says Issah Ali, the Head of WAAPA’s Interim Secretariat.
At the sideline of the meeting, CSOs from Ghana and Nigeria together with the representatives of IOGT International, namely discussed the potential risk of the expansion of the alcohol industry in West Africa and measures to monitor, coordinate actions and counter the activities of the alcohol industry.
The meeting resolved among other ideas to expand the consultative process for the formation of WAAPA to include other CSOs and partners not present at the meeting.
The progress so far is the outcome of collective work, understanding, commitment and hard work from everyone involved.”
The West African Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAPA) is a coalition of civil society organizations and development professionals with the goal of
- Advocating, developing, implementing, enforcing and evaluating evidence-based alcohol policies and programmes,
- Monitoring and sharing information on alcohol policy and alcohol-related issues among its member organisations, development and international partners.
As news from the region shows, Big Alcohol is pushing aggressively into markets in West African countries like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. At the same time the threat of an NCDs epidemic is looming ever larger. In light of Big Alcohol’s unethical business practices and increasing alcohol harm, WAAPA has a tall task, but the network agreed on ambitious and compelling objectives:
- To promote and facilitate information sharing on alcohol and alcohol related issues
- To initiate, facilitate and conduct research on alcohol and alcohol policies and programmes
- To strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations and development professionals involved in alcohol policies and programmes
- To encourage, support and strengthen partnerships between member organisations and governments on the implementation of alcohol policies and programmes
- To promote and advocate for national, regional and continental policies, programmes and regulatory frameworks on alcohol and alcohol related issues
- To mobilize and facilitate access to financial, human and technical assistance and resources required for the development, implementation and evaluation of alcohol policies and programmes.
Meet the interim WAAPA leadership
The founding members decided to select a group of outstanding leaders from six different countries to steer WAAPA in this initial phase, until a proper General Assembly can be held.
The Board of Directors consists of:
- Chairman: Dr Umenze Franklin Chukwuma (Nigeria Alcohol Prevention Youth Initiative, member of IOGT International)
- Vice Chairman: Mr Maguette Thiandoume (Senegalese Youth Network Organization on Population and Development, member of IOGT International)
- Treasurer: Mr Bio-Jeneh Jalloh (FORUT Sierra Leone)
- Member: Mr Abdul Sherif (DevCorps Liberia, member of IOGT International)
- Member: Mr Vita Ishmael Tue ( Action Network for Sustainable Development Corporation, Liberia)
- Member: Mr Alagie Janneh (IOGT Gambia, member of IOGT International)
- Member: Mr Benjamin Anabila (Institute of Leadership and Development, member of IOGT International)
- Advisor: Prof Isidore S. Obot
The head of the interim secretariat is Mr Issah Ali, who works as Executive Director of VALD (Vision for Alternative Development), a member of IOGT International.
The West African Alcohol Policy Alliance joins its sister networks in East and Southern Africa, becoming the third civil society network in Sub-Saharan Africa that mobilizes to tackle alcohol harm and alcohol industry malpractices in their respective region.