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Generation Waste: How Alcoholism in Africa Continues to Effect Global Socio-Economics

An International Journalism Intern, Working through Cross-Continental Solutions, Recently Traveled to Kenya and Reports on the Global Social-Economic Effects of Alcoholism.

Vancouver, BC. June 18th 2013 – Cross-Continental Solutions’ international journalism internship participant recently traveled to Kenya to report on the global social-economic effects of alcoholism in Africa. As the sun rises across East Africa, the men start to gather in the alcohol dens to gulp down their first cup of Chang’aa [a very potent local intoxicating beverage, literally translated to ‘kill me quick’], avoiding a man still inebriated from the night before lying in the dirt road. Kenya, a county rich in nature, but poor in capital is in desperate need of productive citizens.

The National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) reported that alcohol abuse begins in childhood, typically around age 10. The NACADA released a report in 2007 which exposed substance abuse as a serious social issue in Kenya, and while the most recent assessment done in 2012 shows some improvement, the results still reflect a similar pattern.

This alarming alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect on socio-economic status in Kenya. The NACADA reports a variety of side effects such as: low levels of investments since available cash is used to purchase alcohol instead of developmental activities, unemployment due to a lack of qualified workers, and increased theft and conflict in the areas where alcohol and drug abuse are high.

“Because I am drunk. They want me to do a certain job. I am stuttering and I can’t stand. In fact, I lost jobs,” says Jorum Kagunyi, a 40-year-old unemployed alcoholic who lives in a small town about 16 km outside of Nakuru.

Kagunyi used to work in farming, but lost his job due to his alcohol abuse. Kagunyi has six children; the three oldest have to walk 12 km to school, as the family cannot afford bus fair. His wife works as a school teacher and supports the family of eight. Kagunyi estimates that seventy percent of the men in the town abuse alcohol. He knows at least ten people who have died from alcohol poisoning.

The survey done by NACADA also revealed an increase in the consumption of Chang’aa specifically. “It is easy to get Chang’aa,” says Kagunyi who started drinking later than usual, when he was 16-years-old. “You can buy it everywhere.”

Chang’aa, the home-brewed alcohol, spiked with methanol and other toxins, has killed and blinded thousands. NACADA estimates that half of all alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10 and 19 years old. “I know my son drinks, but he hides it,” says Kagunyi.

The government established an act in 2010 to try to control and regulate the production, manufacture, sale, labeling, promotion, sponsorship and consumption of alcoholic drinks, including Chang’aa. President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Kenya’s youth to avoid excessive drinking and other activities that put them in conflict with the law.

About Cross-Continental Solutions:

Cross-Continental Solutions provides affordable intern abroad, volunteer abroad, cultural immersion, language study abroad, and gap year programs. These international programs ensure an exceptional cross-cultural experience for those who wish to make a difference. Many college students take international internships for school credit. Covering a wide range of needs, opportunities are available in areas such as: Teaching, Healthcare, Community Development, Business Coaching, HIV work, Care-giving, Orphanage Work, Journalism, Photography, Wildlife, Agriculture, Environmental, Micro-financing, Tourism, Marketing, and more. Programs are available at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Explore the options or plan a life-changing trip at http://www.CrossContinental.org.