Pubdate: Mon, 27 Oct 2003
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2003 Nation Newspapers
Contact: (254-2)213946
Author: Samuel Siringi


How the Battle On Drug Abuse May Be Won

Nairobi -- Job creation is one way of reducing drug abuse, the draft report 
recommends. Revamping agriculture is also proposed as a way of reducing 
poverty among the youth. The report recommends that the Government should 
tackle the maize borer weevil to reduce crop destruction. Further, the 
study calls for action on video showrooms where films marked adults only 
are screened.

Drugs are also sold in the video rooms, the majority of which target the 
youth. The National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse is urged to 
formulate policies for teachers and school heads to gain knowledge on how 
to deal with drug abuse in schools. Interesting findings were reported by 
the study regarding the behaviour of drug abusers.

A majority of school youth - 52.7 per cent - who smoked bhang, were found 
to engage their family members in arguments, compared to 32.3 per cent who 
picked quarrels with their family members and were not drug abusers. Of the 
out-of-school youth who used bhang, 50 per cent had arguments with family 
members compared to 22.9 per cent for those who did not take the drug.

Informants from Makueni District reported that taking of cannabis sativa 
had increased the incidence of violence and "people were even cutting their 
family members with machetes". In Mwingi District, it was reported that the 
aggressive type were involved in vices like pick-pocketing, petty theft and 

The study says youth using drugs are more prone to unwanted or unprotected 
sex compared to non-users, with cannabis sativa and inhalants posing the 
greatest threat. Both school and out-of-school youth who abused drugs were 
more prone to being put in jail compared to non-users. It says drug effects 
were hampering learning, as those who took the drugs lacked concentration. 
Those who had ever smoked bhang were more than twice likely to be affected 
in their academic work.

The study quotes a report from Masii in Machakos: "Those abusing drugs lose 
interest in virtually everything, particularly their studies" and "they 
start performing poorly in class, have poor concentration and would always 
be drowsy."

Production of miraa in Mbeere District had led to high dropout of school 
youth not necessarily because they chew khat, but due to the lucrative 
payments for picking the drug. It cites two schools in the district - 
Nyagarwa secondary and Ikirwa primary - which had been abandoned by 
learners because of cash. Young children were paid Sh300 per day.

Ikirwa Primary School has been described as a ghost school. Schools where 
drug abuse was rampant performed poorly in national examinations, according 
to the study. Most of the youth who engaged in drugs were also more likely 
to develop health-related problems.

The greatest threat for pupils came from bhang and tobacco, it said. In 
Embu, the study says: "The use of local brews has left behind a weak and 
malnourished youth." In the same area, high prevalence of drug abuse was 
associated with rampant extramarital affairs and spread of HIV/Aids. Miraa 
was specifically cited as leading to impotence among men.
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