Screen shot showing a man under the influence of drugs after having sniffed glue. Douala, Cameroon.
Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, is increasingly becoming a hub of illegal drug consumption and trafficking. Many local youths are turning from cannabis to harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. By posing as a user, our Observer investigated Douala’s lucrative drugs trade.
The Atlantic coastal city is a strategic port for Cameroon. With thousands of containers passing through each day, the docks are a hive of activity, making it easy for drugs traffickers to distribute their goods. As with Cotonou in Benin, Lome in Togo and Lagos in Nigeria, Douala is a transit point in the illegal global drugs trade.
Official statistics do not exist, but regular drug raids on Cameroon’s coastline indicate the scale of the problem. In August 2011, 141.5kg of cocaine
was found inside bottles of vegetable oil on a cargo ship at Douala’s port. Moreover, traffickers do not rely solely on sea travel: in 2012, more than six kilos of heroin were seized at Douala airport.
Not surprisingly, it is increasingly easy to find a variety of different drugs on the streets of Douala. Sniffing a type of glue has proven particularly popular. According to our Observer, a brown liquid form of the drug is kept in a little bag, and is taken by sniffing it from a piece of tissue paper. Users suffer dizzy spells, similar to those displayed by the man in the video below, before succumbing to severe tiredness.
Video showing a man staggering, after having sniffed “glue”. Douala, Cameroon. Video posted on Facebook by Zack Tatem.
Theodore Kommegne, a clinical psychologist who specialises in drugs and alcohol research, carried out a study
of drug use among high school students in 2008. The results showed 5% of the 1,200 pupils studied admitted to having taken drugs, with a special preference for heroine (64% of those using drugs) and cocaine (57%). For the psychologist, this growth in consumption can largely be explained by the drugs' plummeting prices. He says a dose of cocaine, also known as ‘caillou’, now costs between 1,500 and 2,000 Central African Francs (CFA), the equivalent to 2.30€ - 3€. A few years ago, the same dose would have cost 3,000 CFA.