Pubdate: Sat, 03 Aug 2002
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2002 Nation Newspapers
Contact: (254-2)213946


When former Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi was brought out of 
retirement to co-ordinate a new National Agency for the Campaign Against 
Drug Abuse (Nacada), it was assumed a new resolve would be injected into 
the fight against what could become a national scourge.

Mr Kaguthi, after all, was well-known as a tough, efficient, decisive and 
no-nonsense administrator - just the kind of person required to lend muscle 
and steel to such an important campaign.

One and a half years later, there is little to show for Nacada. True, Mr 
Kaguthi has been much in the news. He spearheads numerous anti-drug 
awareness campaigns and has volubly taken the message wherever he can. Only 
yesterday was he chief guest at such a function. And he announced a new 
initiative - to declare war on tobacco and alcohol advertising.

Nacada, said he with vim and vigour, would support lawsuits against 
companies promoting tobacco and alcohol. Yet it seems that, by and large, 
Mr Kaguthi's bark is more scary than his bite.

Apart from expanded awareness campaigns, street processions, seminars and 
workshops, there is little to see in what would be expected of a national 
drugs czar.

That, maybe, is not Mr Kaguthi's fault. Legally and administratively, 
Nacada operates in a vacuum. Though operation from the President's Office 
may give it a certain clout, it does not help that the agency has no teeth 
of its own in terms of a well-defined scope, resources and statutory backing.

Nacada's terms of reference include to co-ordinate activities of the 
individuals and organisations involved in the campaign against drug abuse; 
to conduct public education campaigns; to curb drug abuse among the youth 
and to initiate treatment and rehabilitation programmes for addicts.

Yet, for lack of funds and staff, it can hardly discharge even those 
limited functions. Most glaringly, it apparently has no role to play in 
helping direct the campaign - nay, war - against the production, trade and 
distribution of narcotics.

That is an important function that cannot be left to the police alone. 
There should be a national agency to co-ordinate the entire anti-drug 
effort. A Nacada, properly empowered, could play that role. Otherwise it 
remains a toothless bulldog.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth