Illicit Livelihoods: Drugs and Development in Africa

Posted on 8 October 2018

York's Dr Gernot Klantschnig has presented a paper at a biennial conference about substance use and sustainable development in Africa.

NDLEA, drug eradication

On 20 September 2018, Dr Gernot Klantschnig from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, presented his paper ‘Illicit Livelihoods: Drugs and Development in Africa’ at the 13th Biennial International Conference on Drugs, Alcohol and Society in Abuja, Nigeria. This conference was co-organised by Africa’s major independent drug research body, the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Open Society Foundation.

On Tuesday 18 September, the day before the start of the conference, the South African Constitutional Court decriminalised the private growing and use of cannabis in a pathbreaking judgement. A few months earlier Zimbabwe and Lesotho started experiments with the production of medicinal cannabis. Many of the discussions at the conference were shaped by these shifts in drug policy across the continent, which have begun to bring African drug policies in line with global policy changes. These shifts have not only been restricted to the field of cannabis decriminalisation, but also include harm reduction approaches, for instance representatives from Senegal presented results of the first methadone programme in West Africa at the conference.

NDLEA, burning of seized cannabis

The paper presented by Dr Klantschnig discussed findings of recent work (with Dr Neil Carrier, Bristol) on the impact of cannabis and khat cultivation on agricultural development in Nigeria, Kenya and Southern Africa, as well as the repressive government responses to cannabis. The paper provided important context for the ongoing discussions and policy reforms across Africa. The paper is also part of a forthcoming co-authored research monograph Cannabis Africana: Drugs and Development in Africa, under contract with Cambridge University Press.


Find out about the Biennial International Conferences.   

Learn more about Dr Gernot Klantschnig