More than 35 per cent of Kenyan youth drink for fun, a survey conducted by Kenya Alcohol Policy and Control Alliance (KAPA) has found. The report established various reasons for abuse of alcohol among minors ranging from age, gender and locality, with 84 percent of respondents below 18 citing peer pressure.
Alcohol promotional campaigns on radio stations lead in encouraging minors to take up the drink, the research reports. The study, carried out in five East African countries, reveals six per cent out of the 35 per cent are children below 14 years of age.
The report further shows that 21 per cent of those who drink are boys below 17 years with possible trends of an increased consumption. The survey conducted in Malindi, Kajiado, Murang’a, Siaya and Kilifi counties indicated that 71 percent of minors below the age of 18 have experimented alcohol.
Abuse of alcohol among underage girls was at 29 per cent while 71 per cent of their male counterparts were found to be alcohol addicts. Students’ Campaign Against Drugs (SCAD) programmes officer William Ntakuka said close to 10 per cent of children in counties with excessive alcohol consumption missed schooling opportunities as their parents were heavy consumers.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Ntakuka said failure by the current anti-alcohol measures especially those aimed at discouraging minors below 18 from taking alcohol is a major contributor to underage drinking. He said interviewees said they drink for fun and as a result of peer pressure, while others were given by their parents.
Majority of those drinking prefer spirits and other second generation alcoholic drinks because they are cheaper, get them high quickly. Beer comes in second with 58.1 per cent, muratina is third with 13.4 per cent, while 10 per cent of youth drink illicit brew. “We found out that many youths in the country consume wines and spirits with consumption rate standing at 59.8 per cent,” he said.
He said location of alcohol selling points near residential areas and laxity in observing laws governing sale, production, distribution and promotion of alcoholic drinks in the country is also a major factor leading to underage drinking. 65.8 percent of the respondents said there is an alcohol selling point less than 100 metres from their schools or homes.
Ntakuka said in an effort to fight consumption of illicit brew, the government is withdrawing alcohol without providing alternatives, a short term solution that might worsen the state of those affected. There is need for the government to re-evaluate the approach on alcohol control by state actors to migrate to a public health approach, he said.
He said only 20 out of the 47 counties had adopted the model on alcohol control.
– The Star