“Must read” report on East Africa’s integrated coastal heroin economy shows terrible toll on Kenya, its neighbors (and Western markets)

Kenya Lama donkey and cannon on waterfront seawall on harbor

H/t to Aly-Kahn Satchu on Twitter for highlighting this important report funded by the EU: “The Heroin Coast: a political economy along the eastern African seaboard“.

The report shows the kind of corruption problem in Kenya that led the United States back in 2005-06, as highlighted in my last three posts, to be actively disappointed with the Mwai Kibaki administration’s record. These issues were later revived by Amb. Ranneberger as a born-again reformist after Kibaki was given a second term through corruption of the Electoral Commission.

It highlights the competitive nature of the market in Kenya specifically where those identified as alleged “kingpins” by leaked American dossiers, other reports, and/or public reputation, often are elected to public office themselves, under party banners of convenience.  For instance, the current Jubilee governor of Nairobi got his start in politics through election to Parliament as the nominee of NARC-Kenya, led by Martha Karua, who has a reputation as personally clean and has served for some years on the International Advisory Board of the International Republican Institute.  Likewise, the opposition parties as well normally attract their share of these candidates in constituencies where their nominations are valuable for any given election cycle.

This is a detailed but very readable report that is worth your time if you care about elections specifically and democracy and governance more generally in East Africa and public health in East Africa. And of course all this relates to public health in Europe; the war in Afghanistan; organized crime and corruption generally; piracy, transportation and logistics or maritime security in East Africa and the Indian Ocean; etc. And of course understanding relationships among the coastal states and “non-state actors” particularly Kenya and Somalia.

Most of the heroin continues to go to the most lucrative Eurpoean maket, according to the report, but Africa in recent years is itself the fastest growing consumer market for heroin:

In Kenya there are almost 55 000 people who inject heroin (the consumption method that carries the highest health risks associated with this drug), over 32 000 in Tanzania and over 75 000 in South Africa. But the numbers of people smoking heroin, which, for many, will lead to injecting later, are much higher.

See also Megan Iacobini de Fazio in the Daily Beast: “The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise–With a Mafia Problem.”

Here is a take from “An Africanist’s Perspective” from Ken Opalo.

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