Uganda in particular and the East African region in general are in dire need of better alcohol policies and high-impact, evidence-based laws regulating alcohol. We need it in order to protect our young and vulnerable.

In this video blog, consisting of two short videos, I’m sharing with you the results and conclusions from a study that we in UYDEL have carried out in the slum areas of Kampala, Uganda. We could reveal that 69% of children and youth in Kampala slum areas start using alcohol at the age of 14. Alcohol use is especially harmful to children and youth – both to themselves and society – and we can see that as a consequence, there is now:

  • Higher exposure to unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies,
  • Traffic fatalities,
  • Increased risk of mental health problems,
  • Increased risk of physical and sexual assault,
  • Domestic violence,
  • Poor performance in formal education, and
  • Poverty.

The UYDEL research shows that 51% of the sampled youth had more than one sexual partner. 25% had three to five partners who admitted that when they are under the influence of alcohol, they do not use condoms. The study also reveals that many alcohol manufacturing companies are using aggressive marketing strategies, including product design and pricing, that attract young people.

The lack of high-impact and evidence-based alcohol regulations, as recommended by the WHO, results in the tremendous burden of alcohol harm on the young in particular and society in general. While Uganda is still depending on the 1965 Enguli (non-distilled liquor) Act – which activists say is out dated – Kenya is the only East African country with alcohol regulations in place that help stem the tide.

I think that important measures to be taken are to increase alcohol taxation and to raise the legal age limit for alcohol use to 21. Making alcohol less affordable is a powerful policy because it reduces alcohol use and related harm and it increases revenue for the government to invest in health promotion.

Making alcohol less available through a higher and better enforced age limit is a powerful policy because it, too, reduces consumption and alcohol-related harm.

Both measures, especially when put in place in an integrated fashion, will unfold high-impact on youth protection. And surely, that’s what we need in Uganda and East Africa.

For further reading:

East African Business Week article

Daily Monitor article