Building civil society resilience to organized crime in Guinea-Bissau

Published on March 11, 2022

With a population of just 2 million, Guinea-Bissau is one of the smallest countries in Africa, dwarfed by the continent’s major urban centres. However, the country has experienced a disproportionate share of conflict and instability, much of which has been linked to the growth of the transnational cocaine trade through West Africa, facilitated by Guinea-Bissau’s political and military elite.

Illicit markets have a prominent role in shaping the economic and social development of Guinea-Bissau, where 67 per cent of the population live in poverty, and the country has a fragmented civil society with low awareness of illicit markets and corruption. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC)’s Resilience Fund, through its targeted programme of support to least developed countries (LDCs), focused on mapping civil society in Guinea-Bissau and bolstering community awareness of illicit markets, with a long-term objective of building a foundation for further support to civil society. The programme, named LDC Accelerator, was funded by the government of Norway and supported the GI-TOC’s Observatory of Illicit Economies in Guinea-Bissau, a joint GI-TOC and UN Development Programme initiative launched in 2020.

Building civil society resilience to organized crime in Guinea-Bissau

This document outlines the current landscape of civil society in Guinea-Bissau and offers a snapshot of the work undertaken through the LDC Accelerator programme. Supporting civil society is now more important than ever, as citizens continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its countermeasures, and face increased pressure from state institutions seeking to silence critical voices.

About the authors

Lucia Bird Ruiz-Benitez de Lugo
Director of the West Africa Observatory, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

Lucia has published extensively on a range of organized crime types, including human smuggling, human trafficking, drugs trafficking and cyber-crime, with a focus on dynamics in Africa. Prior to joining the organisation, Lucia worked as legal and policy adviser to the Planning and Development Department of the Punjab Government, Pakistan, and before that held the same role at the Ministry of Finance, Ghana. During this time Lucia was affiliated with Oxford Policy Management, a development consultancy headquartered in the UK. Prior to this Lucia worked as a corporate lawyer in London.

About the authors

A. Gomes

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