A local story, told by local people: Our campaign needed a tight focus, something we could measure and say “we’ve won.” The answer was obvious: Eliminate cheap, sachet alcohol…

Solving one problem at a a time

When our organizing group ‘Wakonye Kenwa’ decided to tackle the alcohol problem in our area, we asked ourselves “what is the one thing we could change that would have the biggest impact?”

Our campaign needed a tight focus, something we could measure and say “we’ve won.” The answer was obvious: Eliminate cheap, sachet alcohol.

Community heroes

Meet Otim Isaac. He lives in a tiny grass-thatched house in Lacor center with no running water. But you will see an electricity line sneakily running out of the grass, and inside you will find him beavering away on his laptop. Isaac “the virus” Otim is a go-to in this small center for filming and editing wedding and funeral videos, and producing low-budget songs for radio for hopeful new artists.

Isaac was the very first member of our organizing group. He has very personal reasons to care deeply about the alcohol problem in our community. He has two half-brothers, who are also part of our group. One is a recovered alcoholic who has become a much loved community leader in the lower rungs of local government, the other is still recovering. Alcohol harm is still destroying his mother’s life, and is a source of constant chaos and pain in their family.

A local story, told by local people

When we launched our campaign, Isaac filmed and edited this minute-long clip to help articulate why sachet alcohol is such a key problem. We used it as part of many presentations, to inspire local government officials, and seek funding for the legislative process from gulu-based non-governmental-organizations.

Otim Isaac explains the problem with sachet alcohol in Gulu district, Northern Uganda.

For further reading

Blog Series by Tessa Laing on the trials and tribulations of alcohol control efforts in Gulu District in Northern Uganda

First blog post: “He Sells His Land To Drink”

Uganda. Gulu Town. One community. Many, many stories of alcohol harm – and an initiative to bring transformative change.

This blog is the beginning of a series exploring how community resolves to tackle alcohol problems and the challenges they face in doing so…


Second blog post: “Towards Alcohol Laws In Gulu: Low Hanging Fruit?”

Armed with the collection of our community’s stories about the impact of alcohol, we sat outside the office of Gulu’s District Chairperson.

We waited amongst a mixed assortment of people: three Ugandan men in fancy suits, an Indian man clutching some business cards, a woman in a frayed skirt and bare feet…