The National Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) and the Taita Taveta County Government have identified areas of cooperation, the key among them fighting the scourge of drug and substance abuse.
In the meeting with NACADA’s board during a function held in Mombasa, Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime, said that the coastal county is in need of support to fight the problem of drug and substance abuse, especially among the youth.
“We’re in a situation where we need help with drug and substance abuse, especially among the youth. We are willing to partner with NACADA and help our young people get over the problem,” said Mwadime.
On youths’ abuse of drugs and substances, Mwadime said that lack of employment and income-generating activities carried a bigger portion of the blame. “In the problem of drug and substance abuse among the youth, lack of employment and income-generating streams bear the largest blame,” he said.
The governor added that his government was working hand in hand with investors to create a vibrant economy that creates job opportunities for the youth and women. “We have an open door policy in partnering with investors to create a conducive environment for economic growth and create job opportunities for youths and women,” added Mwadime.
NACADA, through its board chairperson, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, expressed its willingness to work with the coastal county on several fronts but majorly on the issue of stemming drug and substance abuse among the youth.
“We are equally willing to partner with Taita Taveta County Government on several fronts but most immediately in fighting drug and substance abuse among the youthful population,” said Imbuga.
NACADA’s CEO, Victor Okioma, shared similar sentiments while at the same time urging the county to expedite the completion of the Wesu Rehabilitation Center to act as a haven for those recovering from addiction.
“We are solid on our promise of partnership, and I urge you to hasten the completion of the Wesu Rehabilitation Center to act as a safe place for addiction victims to recover,” said Okioma.
Taita Taveta is not a stranger to the problem of drug and substance abuse albeit being ranked as the county with the least level of people at least using one substance in the coastal region in NACADA’s survey on “Status of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Coast Region, Kenya” in 2016.
In the survey, Taita Taveta was ranked last in the coastal counties with an index of 20.7 percent of people who are currently abusing at least one substance. The survey further ranked tobacco 14.7 percent, Alcohol 12.6 percent, miraa 4.5 percent, bhang 2.3 percent, and heroin 1.3 percent in that order of preference among people using drugs and substances in the coast region.
During this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations held at Mwatate Secondary School, Taita Taveta County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara said the drug and substance abuse problem among the youth was an ongoing concern and that the national government was addressing the problem from the grassroots.
“The drug and substance abuse problem among the youth is a current concern we are dealing with, and the national government through its administrators is fighting the problem from the source,” said Kibaara.
The administrator further called on the public to be vigilant and collaborate with authorities in efforts to identify drug dens, stop distribution, and bring those culpable into the hands of the law.
“Let’s stay alert and collaborate with law enforcers in the identification of drug dens, stopping distribution, and bringing those culpable before the law,” said Kibaara.
According to past NACADA information, the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway, Voi-Taveta Holili road, and the border with Tanzania are playing a critical role in the distribution of hard drugs within and outside the county.
By Arnold Linga Masila