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Uasin Gishu, NACADA launch action plan on alcohol and drug control

The County Government of Uasin Gishu, the National Government through NACADA and other agencies have launched Alcohol and Drug Control Action Plan to combat drug and substance abuse.

The launch is a culmination of a Joint Communique for Rift valley, where Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) was identified as a major challenge to the socio-economic development of the country, following a public concern across the counties over the devastating effects of ADA that cut across all sectors including health and security.

Speaking during launching of the plan at the Eldoret National Polytechnic, Governor Dr. Jonathan Chelilim, pointed out that the action plan for the year 2023/2024 was very timely due to the alarming increase of ADA particularly among the youth.

Chelilim added that his administration is committed to working closely with the national government and other stakeholders to fight the menace, which has highly contributed to breaking of family ties and increased school dropouts among others.

“It is worrying, if we can’t fight this menace, we might end up losing all the generations. All of us must take responsibility on how to sort out this problem,” he noted.

The governor indicated that porous borders with the neighbouring countries pose a great challenge in the supply of banned contraband alcohol and drugs in the county, even as he called on the border security team to scale up measures to address the issue.

“Corruption is the greatest contributor to the presence of illicit alcohol and drugs from within and our neighbouring countries. The action plan is a crucial step as it embraces a multi-sectoral-approach,” added Chelilim.

The governor reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the action plan through coordination and a multidisciplinary licencing regime of alcoholic services, and working together with the national government administrative officials, whenever they want to issue any licence in order to ensure the right protocols are adhered to, and that all unlicensed outlets are closed down and operators prosecuted.

Chelilim reiterated the need to engage in promotion and research of alcohol and drug abuse both at the county and national level.

“We are also committed to the establishment of treatment and rehabilitation centres, where we have two, one in Moiben and another rescue centre in Eldoret. What we need there with the help of NACADA is serious counsellors,” he said.

The governor noted that the county is working towards timely inspection and licensing of all liquor outlets, round the clock compliance monitoring and successful implementation, as well as sensitization and outreach programmes.

Additionally, the county is in the process of identifying and training reformed brewers in the communities to find alternative ways of income instead of engaging in brewing and selling of illicit alcohol, which poses great threat to people’s health and lives.

Another step the county is taking to fight ADA, is the Implementation of stringent penalties on failure to adhere to compliance and licensing regulations and continuous review and improvement of existing policies to adapt to evolving challenges in the fight against substance abuse.

Chelilim also hinted at collaboration with education institutions to integrate alcohol and substance abuse awareness and prevention programmes into the curriculum in order to save the future generation from the problem.

“We welcome this approach to see Uasin Gishu and Eldoret town as alcohol free county, we hope that the action plan will be able to address this menace especially on our youth because this is our future, everybody is affected and I believe this multi-agency approach will really help us mitigate on this,” alluded the Governor.

From right: NACADA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Antony Omerikwa, Uasin Gishu Governor Dr. Jonathan Chelilim, NACADA Chairman Rev. Dr. Stephen Mairori and Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Dr. Eddyson Nyale, Posing for a photo during the Launch of County Action Plan on Alcohol and Drug Control, at The Eldoret National Polytechnic (TENP), Eldoret, Uasin Gishu on Tuesday February 13, 2024.

In his remarks, National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Antony Omerikwa indicated that Uasin Gishu is the first county to launch the action plan, which is a commencement of the full implementation of the deliberations that were arrived at during the Joint Communique for Rift valley on 29th May, 2023 in order to address the alcohol menace in the country.

“We are doing this as a national approach as we view this issue of ADA as a threat to the security of this country,” he said.

The CEO explained that the key component in the plan is Supply Suppression and Demand Reduction in terms of education, advocacy and rehabilitation programmes and supply suppression through a multi-agency approach to suppression of supply in terms of compliance, checking and ensuring that the available legislations dealing with illicit alcohol trade are fully enforced.

On his part, NACADA Chairman, Rev. Dr. Stephen Mairori, said they have worked out on a formula in dealing with demand reduction and supply suppression through working together to ensure all the agencies tasked with preventing illegal goods from entering into the country are working effectively and also increasing surveillance to contain goods manufactured illegally in the country.

On his part, the County Commissioner, Dr. Eddyson Nyale alluded that the County Multi-Agency Committee on combating illicit brew, alcohol, trade and substance abuse was revived to convene stakeholders’ forum to develop County Action Plan in line with the resolutions.

He revealed that, following the Presidential directive on the fight against illicit brew and other narcotics, a number of initiatives were put in place including a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI), and with collaborated efforts from the County Multi-Agency Committee that has led to the netting of 26,437 litres of Chang’aa, 185,148 litres of Kangara, 39,232 litres of Busaa and 7, 245 rolls and 2,200 stems of bhang.

He added the County has profiled 1,369 reformers and 981 brewers towards engaging them to adopt Alternative Livelihood. So far, the county has trained 300 reformers on entrepreneurship and providing resources for alternative livelihood.

Dr. Nyale noted that the National and the County governments are bringing on board all Government Finance Service Providers such as National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF), Women Fund, Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE), Youth Fund, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in order to support the brewers, undertake alternative livelihood projects.

“I therefore urge everyone’s commitment in the implementation of this Action Plan that will go a long way to guarantee security and health of persons as well as boosting the well-being of the people,” he said.

The County Commissioner indicated that the Action Plan prioritizes investment in the Public Education and Advocacy, Counselling and Rehabilitation, Compliance, Risk Management and Quality Control, Research as well as engaging legal Alcohol Manufacturing Companies in managing their bottles that are misused by the Illicit Alcohol Manufacturers.

“This Plan seeks to fulfil the Government’s mission of improving a healthy and productive population that would enable the government to realize its Bottom-Up Transformative Agenda in a conducive environment,” noted Dr. Nyale.

The Eldoret National Polytechnic Chief Principal, Charles Koech, lauded the move by the national and county governments in coming up with the multi-agency approach to address the alarming issue of Alcohol and Drug Abuse which is common among the youth particularly in the learning institutions.

He stated that they have already developed a workplace policy on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) that is going to address the issue.

“We are going to work closely with NACADA and other agencies to ensure that our youth are sensitized and also given medication measures to suppress this problem,” said Koech.

By Ekuwam Sylvester and Luka Kiptanui

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