Subheading: NACADA Report Reveals Alarming Trends in Drug Consumption Among Youth
By Mapenzi Kitsao
Despite the concerted efforts of Kenyan authorities to combat drug and substance abuse in the country, recent data paints a troubling picture. The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) released a report on Monday, shedding light on the persistence of this growing threat.
The report's findings, presented by NACADA's Principal of Research Morris Kamenderi, indicate that drug consumption in Kenya is rising, with alarming trends among the nation's youth. Shockingly, the data reveals that drug use begins as early as six years old.
According to the survey, a staggering 156,461 school children are using tobacco products, 127,124 are abusing alcohol, 112,456 are miraa (khat) chewers, and 39,115 are smoking bhang (marijuana). Even more concerning is the revelation that 153,846 youths aged 15 to 19 are severely addicted to alcohol, 90,531 are addicted to bhang, 58,819 are addicted to miraa, and 58,819 are addicted to tobacco. These statistics include students who should be in primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges.
NACADA further reports that approximately one in every 20 Kenyans, equivalent to 1,357,040 individuals, is addicted to alcohol.
Regional disparities are also evident, with the Western region topping the list of alcohol consumers at a staggering 23.8 percent, followed by the Coast region at 13.9 percent and the Central region at 12.8 percent.
These alarming figures have raised questions about the efficacy of police efforts in tackling drug abuse. Are the police not doing enough, or is there a deeper issue at play?
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of police officers accepting bribes from drug peddlers. One individual, who chose to remain anonymous, alleged, "Most of the police officers choose to take the bribe rather than take action against the drug peddlers. Ironically, many police officers are also involved in using alcohol and bhang, making it challenging for them to enforce anti-drug measures."
On the contrary, some police officers argue that the drug problem is exacerbated by peer pressure among youths and children. They emphasize the need for a holistic approach involving parents, communities, and the government to address this issue effectively.
Another claim made by insiders is that government response and legal proceedings against drug cartels are often delayed, allowing drug dealers to continue their operations with relative impunity. Some drug dealers can afford to pay the bonds set by the courts, further facilitating their illegal activities.
While efforts have been made by law enforcement agencies to address the problem, the level of success remains minimal according to reports from the field.
As the nation grapples with the increasing challenge of drug abuse, it is evident that a multi-faceted approach involving law enforcement, community education, and government intervention is urgently needed to reverse these alarming trends. The question remains: Will Kenya be able to stem the rising tide of drug abuse and protect its youth from the clutches of addiction?