The Big Alcohol move to self-regulation, particularly concerning women is a big lie, more so in Uganda. Uganda has reportedly been identified as a country with high alcohol per capita consumption in Africa, indeed in 2005 alone Uganda was number one. In my country laws are not enforced, leave alone being outdated – just consider the enacted in 1966-seethe Alcohol Enguli Act.
The Big Alcohol actions on the ground do not actually reflect any semblances of effective and high-impact actions to address all the alcohol issues in Ugandan society, neither do they live up to protecting specific populations for instance women and children.
The civil society organisations working for prevention and reduction of alcohol harm in Uganda have long expressed their deep concerns about self-regulation, because Big Alcohol obviously uses it to target children in all public spaces in order to hook them to alcohol. Unregulated advertising is a menace coupled with free distribution of small packaged sachets, the sale and distribution is also raising higher level in terms of drinking and violence.
The country welcomes with high hopes MP Odongo Otto who had intentions of introducing a private members bill to regulate alcohol. The hope appears to be fading, though, since we have not heard anything about tabling the revised alcohol laws in Uganda.
Interestingly the President, some Ministers and honorable Members of Parliament all appreciate the need to regulate alcohol but no one has taken a bold step to see that the alcohol industry is tamed and to ensure that Uganda exhibits guidance on good practices of controlling alcohol within the East African Community. The will is there but taking action to protect women and children is slow
Reports significantly show that alcohol is a major obstacle for development and a major burden of alcohol harm falls on Ugandan women, who are burdened by increasing needs to assure food security for the family, whereas their men spend more time using alcohol and committing violence. In this vicious circle, children get sucked in both by becoming victims of the consequences of adults’ use of alcohol and because Big Alcohol aggressively recruits them as new customers.
Self-regulation has not produced any results and appears to be a tool to deceive the government officials as well as the larger Ugandan society.