By Paul Mwangi Via Facebook
The government’s move to ban the trade in cheap alcohols is a good first step to dealing with the alcohol epidemic that has plagued many parts of this country and particularly the former central province. However, that is far from enough.
Dealing with the scourge of alcoholism will need a broad based program that will address all factors contributing to this epidemic.
The following issues must be urgently considered.
1. Excessive consumption of alcohol is not a result of availability of low priced brews. People don’t drink too much because they can afford. The rise in disposable incomes does not translate to excessive alcohol consumption. On the contrary, it is the decrease in incomes that results in increased alcohol consumption.
2. Excessive consumption of alcohol on a wide scale is usually the result of many socio/economic factors. In the case of Kenya, there are a few:
a) The emasculation of the boy child and the denigration of the male gender in the Kenyan society
b) The high levels of youth unemployment and the lack of hope in the younger generation for the future
c) The increased levels of poverty among the poor particularly in the rural areas and ever widening economic inequalities in the Kenyan society
d) Pursuit of discredited economic policies that develop the economy at a macro level with the hope of it trickling down to the micro economy
e) Lack of virtue in public morals and the exaltation of wealth as the most critical value in society
f) Corruption in regulatory and policing authorities and lack of ethics in governance.
3. Experience from the past shows that alcohol banning only works in Islamic countries with the strictest implementation of sharia.Â In secular democracies, alcohol banning creates a black market which results in alcohol smuggling, illegal brewing, secret alcohol dens, organized crime, increase in corruption and higher consumption of other intoxicating substances mainly marijuana and other cheap narcotics.