In Ifunda ward were we are currently implementing Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program. We have conducted a sensitization meeting with local leaders mainly the officers at the ward level. The program is covering all six villages of the ward so it is fitting that officers at the ward understand what we are doing.
The meeting was very important firstly because there has been changes where the former Ward Executive officer has been transferred. Because of these changes it is important that we forge a bond with the new acting Ward Executive Officer. We used the meeting to give a brief history of project, what we have achieved, challenges and the way forward.
Since we use community based approach it is important that the leaders are on the same page with the people. The people themselves agreed to have this project in their communities and there are the ones that will bring changes. Alcohol is a behavioral change matter so we can only have positive results if the leaders are committed to guide their people through these changes.
We are happy that the meeting was well received and participants showed that they are concerned about their people and supportive of the project. Ward Education Officer was happy that we have included schools in this program. He believes that it is easier to teach children who have not started using alcohol and discourage those that have already started drinking. The hope is that even schools’ performances can improve if students don’t use alcohol and drugs.
Participants vowed to remind the village council members who attended the seminars to continue to impart knowledge to other villagers. They also welcome us to continue with the program as they believe it will have positive impact on the ward. We hope that going forward we will continue to have full support from ward office.
The next stage is capacity building to village councils on forming by-laws. This is important so that they can form by-laws that will be of the required standards. We also believe that the knowledge will be useful in long term to solve other issues.