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Religious leaders call for better strategies in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse

Leaders drawn from various religious organizations in Murang’a want the government to change tactics used to fight illicit brews and alcoholism in central region.

The leaders, under an umbrella group dubbed Mulika Initiative Forum which draws members from the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and SUPKEM have faulted the methods being used to fight alcoholism in the region.

They noted that corruption is fueling the menace saying liquor licensing bodies are being compromised to issue permits allowing selling of substandard liquor.

Coordinator of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Nairobi branch Simon Muiruri said efforts should be directed at the sources of the substandard and illicit brews.

Speaking Tuesday during a stakeholders meeting held in Murang’a Muiruri said the act of destroying liquor impounded from shelves will not have a long-term solution and asked the government to actively involve the church in the fight against alcoholism and drugs.

“Our youths are greatly affected by alcoholism. Unemployment also pushes them to abuse alcohol and drugs. As a forum we ask the government to check how to address the matter effectively,” added Muiruri.

Mulika Initiative forum, he said is following up to ensure monies sent to counties are well utilized saying corruption deals are mostly done at the procurement department.

“As a watchdog forum, we are working to ensure funds meant for devolved administration are prudently used and we will be having meetings with the county government of Murang’a to find out how allocated funds have been utilized,” said Muiruri.

“Secondly county governments have the responsibility of licensing liquor outlets and we have information that some of the licenses are issued through corrupt means. We want this to stop and those operating bars illegally be stopped from operating the businesses,” noted Muiruri.

Chairman of SUPKEM, central region Shaban Bakari said a large number of young men in the central region have been reduced to zombies by alcoholism.

He said the region is more affected by the illicit brews saying cheap and substandard liquor are finding their way to Mount Kenya counties.

“Our region is greatly affected by excessive alcoholism and this puts the future of our young people in a precarious situation. We want the government to fully engage the community, religious among other stakeholders in the fight against the menace.

“It was sad to lose 23 lives in Kirinyaga two weeks ago after consuming poisonous brews. As members of the community, we are worried since in every homestead there is a person who has been reduced to a zombie by these brews,” Bakari lamented.

He called upon the government to change the tactic of fighting alcoholism saying destroying already manufactured brews will not yield much in the campaign against the menace.

“Those manufacturing these brews are known, those selling them are in the community but nothing much is being done about them. We need concerted efforts to stop this problem in our community,” averred Bakari.

By Bernard Munyao

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