West Africa Security Project (WASP) – component on Gender Equality and Diversity (GED)

29 January 2024

On 8 September 2022, the WCO and the German Central Customs Authority signed a grant agreement for Phase 2 of the West Africa Security Project (WASP). This multi-annual phased project is unique as it is the first formal cooperation between German Customs and the WCO in the border security area. It is part of a broader German Government initiative, Enable and Enhance Initiative (E21), aimed at facilitating the security sector reform in partner countries, namely in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

The project builds on the outcomes of the Phase 1 WASP, which primarily focused on capacity building for border security-related activities: awareness raising and training and mentoring in using tools and technologies. WASP phase 2 has focused on supporting the detection of small arms and light weapons, as well as cargo examination and cargo targeting, a component managed by the Security Programme of the Compliance Directorate at the WCO. For more information about this project component, please visit  World Customs Organization (wcoomd.org)

Recognizing the importance of gender equality and diversity (GED) as prerequisites for achieving sustainable development and ensuring peace and security in West Africa, the project includes, since October 2022, a new and innovative GED component managed by the WCO Capacity Building Directorate. This project component aims to support partner countries in developing and implementing gender-responsive and inclusive policies and practices with a specific focus on security. Initially focusing on the three partner administrations of Cȏte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, the extended phase of the WASP, which started in January 2024, has widened its scope to support Benin, the Gambia and Nigeria.

The GED project component leverages the initiatives and tools the WCO has launched in recent years to enhance the GED agenda, including the WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) and the Blended Training Package on advancing gender equality and inclusion targeting Customs. It aims to guide partner administrations in identifying strengths and gaps regarding GED implementation and support them in the process of developing comprehensive action plans to implement GED on a holistic basis in their human resource management as well as in border operations and stakeholder collaboration, thereby strengthening performance, engagement and outreach.

The project has offered targeted support in conducting GED organizational assessment missions based on the GEOAT, sub-regional training on implementing GED in Customs, and strategic assistance to partner administrations in developing GED action plans for a holistic implementation of GED.  The project component has also focused on identifying synergies with other relevant stakeholders, including Ministries in charge of Trade and Gender and regional and international development partners.

The WASP also funded an update of the GEOAT, including the development of a dedicated chapter on Security and Safety, which was published on the WCO website in December 2023. For further information, please consult  gender-equality-assessment-tool.pdf (wcoomd.org)

In 2024, the project will primarily focus on the following:

  1. Providing assistance to the new partner administrations in Benin, the Gambia and Nigeria on the use of the GEOAT to allow them to conduct GED organizational assessments to identify gaps.
  2. Organize two sub-regional trainings (one in English and one in French) targeting all partner Administrations.
  3. Support the organization of stakeholder engagement activities in the three existing partner administrations of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, thereby supporting the implementation of gender-responsive activities targeting external stakeholders.

For more information about this project and its activities, please contact capacity.building@wcoomd.org.