At a high level session of the Annual General Meeting of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) in Namibia on Friday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and representatives from SADC signed a Joint Regional Programme for 2013 to 2016 on making the SADC region safer from crime and drugs.

The regional programme will aim to build frameworks around areas such as countering illicit trafficking and organised crime, improving drug abuse prevention, treatment and care as well as HIV prevention for drug users including prisoners.

“Challenges such as increasing drug use, HIV and Aids, organised crime, trafficking in persons, violence against women and children, corruption and money-laundering are shared challenges, which inhibit national and regional development, undermining justice and the rule of law, and threatening overall security in all SADC Member States,” said Ehab Salah, project officer at UNODC.

“Only by working together, can these challenges be addressed in a meaningful and sustainable way.”

(READ MORE: Crime in S.Africa needs to be addressed in a nonviolent manner)

While the regional programme has already been implemented in areas such as HIV prevention in prisons, human trafficking, gender based violence and anti-corruption, UNODC emphasised on the importance of securing additional funding from SADC and other member states in order to expand the programme geographically.

The mandate also focuses on SADC members strengthening capacities at a national level and promoting regional cooperation.

Frameworks for the cross-cutting programme will therefore be built using data collection, analysis, legislative drafting and capacity building.

(READ MORE: Information sharing necessary to combat crime in S.Africa)

According to the UN, technical members from all member states were consulted to identify key concerns and priorities that need to be addressed in the regional programme.