Single parenthood blamed for underage drinking in Kenya



A new study by IPSOS supported by the Kenya Breweries Limited on underage drinking in Kenya indicates most minors who drink alcohol – at 32 percent – are brought up by single parents.

The report shows that children brought up by single mothers are worst hit at 59 percent compared to those brought up by fathers at 41 percent.

The research which covered six counties and saw over 800 minors interviewed further shows that most of them start drinking alcohol between the age of 12 and 16 (56 percent).

IPSOS Business Consultant Godwin Asiimwe who presented the report during the launch of the campaign against the vice on Thursday said a stressful education system and peer pressure are largely to blame for the worrying trend.

“The education system is one of the attributing factors to underage drinking of alcohol…the education stakeholders need to address these concerns,” he stated.

Others said alcohol enhances their performance, reduces boredom while some said it makes them feel relaxed.

The campaign targets 30,000 alcohol outlets countrywide and will be kicked off next month until June next year.

The drinking culture among the minors, the report pointed out escalate gradually once they join secondary with those in Form 4 being worst hit at 29.9 percent an increase from 6.3 percent when they are in Form 1.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion reacting on the study agreed that the education system in the country is stressful saying there is need for a curriculum review as well as other measures to stop underage drinking in the country.

“Curriculum must be reviewed continuously to make it relevant and more friendly…we are not supposed to stay with students who are under stress,” he said.

He said guidance and counselling departments that were introduced in schools “will help to address the emerging issues.”

The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act (2013) imposes stiff penalties to individuals who sell alcohol to minors or even allow them access to areas where alcohol is manufactured, sold or consumed.

The law also ensures the right to access information and education on health effects of alcohol abuse and access to treatment and rehabilitation programs for those facing the detrimental effects of alcohol.

Pubs Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya Chairman Patrick Muya however says they law should also cover people who go to drink alcohol in the company of minors.

He lamented that at its current status, the law only targets the owners of entertainment places.

Muya also noted that majority of people who are under 18 years were buying alcohol from illegal outlets.

“These outlets offer great competition to legal alcohol establishments,” he stated. “The county governments should provide a list of licensed outlets.”