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The Alcohol Prevention Project.

OUR INTERVENTION IN FIGHTING ALCOHOL USE AND RELATED HARM.

UGGA has been implementing the Alcohol Prevention Project funded by IOGT NTO Movement a Swedish International Organization since 2016. UGGA is currently implementing the project in the new phase from 2017-2021, in Soroti district Eastern Uganda with the overall goal of ‘Improved health, social and economic livelihoods of young women and men between ages of 10-20 free from the negative effects of alcohol’.

In Soroti District, alcohol is widely used by young people and adults. They consume both locally-brewed and factory-made brews. Young people use alcohol as part of their leisure time activities. They drink alcohol so as to get drunk and have fun, as an escape from stress, and as a socialization agent. Alcohol is mixed with other substances in order to make it strong. The drinking behaviour of young people and adults poses potential risks for them in relation to their sexual behaviour, health and economy.

More efforts have been put in awareness campaigns and sensitization on the harmful use of alcohol in the community. In order to have a participatory approach to fight excessive use of alcohol in Soroti, a peer education approach was introduced. This aims at recruiting the community youth, give them training and thereafter they continue with sensitising the community members through peer to peer approach. The project has strengthened the capacity of 60 youth both girls and boys from Arapai, Katine, Kamuda sub counites and Soroti Municipality as peer educators to carry out mass sensitizations in the communities where they come from. This has resulted in increased knowledge on the dangers of alcohol abuse and in turn some people who were producers, distributors, sellers and consumers of alcohol abandoned the practice.

Similar campaigns have been carried out in schools, through girl guide clubs. We have been able to setup sober clubs in at least four schools per subcounty and this has strengthened guiding and increased membership to 1000 plus. The children carry out alcohol sensitizations in and out of school and have influenced teachers and parents to abandon the use of alcohol.

Mr Martin lives in Odudui centre in Soroti. He was one of the major distributors and seller of alcohol mainly in sachets/tot packs. He was the major distributor in his village and the neighbouring district of Amuria. Through the Uganda Girl Guides project activities; Mr Martin was invited to a sensitization meeting and training of alcohol harm which was delivered to alcohol sellers and producers. The key message during the sensitization was on the effects of alcohol use in relation to health, economy and social aspects. Among other participants, at the end of the meeting Mr Martin told the audience that he would stop the selling and distribution of alcohol which was his main business in the community. He was quoted saying; “It is obvious that alcohol is very harmful to human health, social and economic developments. From this awareness I have got, I will have to rethink if I should continue distributing and selling the sachets which are even very bad to the minors”.

Ayelo Juliana is a born of Aber village in Merok parish in Katine sub county and was a major brewer and seller of ‘lira-lira” waragi in that parish. Through the peer educator sensitization activities in that village on the effects of alcohol in relation to health and the economy. Ms. Ayelo Juliana came out openly after the sensitization saying she was going to abandon the practice and start another business. She was quoted saying that; “ I have been a fighter, a very quarrelsome woman, I have neglected my children and could not make any savings and I therefore failed to send my children to school, I will look for something else to do so that I can save people’s health and stop contributing to the countries low development.” She has now switched to agriculture and has bought goats and one (1) cow which is giving her milk for the family and she sells of the rest and is able to send her children to school and buy them uniform. She advises women to stop drinking because it’s the most embarrassing thing to be a drunk woman.