Research findings on Socio-economic impact of liquor abuse

written byLiquor Board

Let me take this opportunity to greet media houses present. As Eastern Cape Liquor Board we are greatly humbled by your attendance to this very significant media engagement session.

In 2012, the ECLB commissioned a study on socio-economic impact of liquor abuse in the Province. The Eastern Cape Liquor Act of 2003 has mandated us, among other things, to manage and reduce the socio-economic and other costs of excessive alcohol consumption.

Results of this study have been used to design strategic interventions in respect of programmes. This approach will ensure that we derive maximum value from the limited resources in our endeavor to mitigate negative impact of the alcohol abuse.

Whilst we appreciate the fact that we operate with enormously limited resources, we, however, have sought to strengthen our partnerships and are working alongside existing anti-alcohol abuse initiatives. Through this approach we seek to leverage on the programmes and resources of our partners so as to maximize our efforts in reducing instances of liquor abuse in the Province. Furthermore, we realize that liquor abuse in our communities is a societal issue, henceforth; all our programmes are underpinned by rigorous mobilization of our communities against the abuse of liquor.

The study has unearthed quite interesting trends in liquor consumption in the country. For example, it shows that South Africans who do use alcohol, consume an inordinate amount, more than twice the global average. The study found that the average probability of alcohol consumption is lower in the Eastern Cape compared to the national average. It also found that the alcohol consumption of youth in the Eastern Cape is also lower than the national average. The most common reasons cited for drinking in the Eastern Cape include: being sociable (36% of drinkers); to forget about problems, loneliness; escape from reality (27%); to get drunk (19); and boredom (18%). It was therefore argued that the greatest number of drinkers (64%) drink to escape, not to socialise (36%).

The study has pinpointed areas in the Province which are more likely to consume a greater volume of alcohol, and these areas are Cacadu (34%), Nelson Mandela Metro (33%), Chris Hani (24%), Amatole (22%), OR Tambo (20%), and Joe Gqabi (20%). People living in Alfred Nzo (15%) are least likely to drink. As indicated earlier, areas with the highest consumption will be targeted through our education and awareness campaigns.

The study shows the aggregation of alcohol abuse by sex. For the whole of South Africa, 41% of men and 14% of women drink alcohol. The statistics for the Eastern Cape similarly indicates that 44% of men and 12% of women ever drink. Again the aggregation by sex illustrates that both men and women are likely to drink more in Cacadu, Nelson Mandela Bay and Chris Hani. Those regions with the lowest rates of alcohol consumption, OR Tambo, Joe Gqabi and Alfred Nzo show that women are far less likely than men to drink alcohol in these areas.

The study indicates that the prevalence of alcohol use is more pronounced for the youth than adult populations when considering geographic (urban/rural) factors. For example, between 2% and 15% of youth in urban and metropolitan areas drink alcohol whilst 2% of youth in the rural areas drink. The study further shows that 45% of youth in grades 8, 9 and 10 in the Eastern Cape have ever used alcohol. It was found that learners with poorer grades as opposed to higher grades are more at risk, as well as those who get more pocket money than their average peers are considerably more at risk. Against this backdrop, educating the youth about dangers of alcohol is always our priority.

According to the survey results women in the Eastern Cape are more likely to drink three or four drinks than just one or two drinks per average drinking event. The survey suggested that this meant women in the Eastern Cape are proportionately more at risk of risky/binge drinking than the national average. The data from the research conducted by Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) in the Western Cape suggest that 80% of mothers of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) children binge. FAS is a major concern for us and forms the basis of one of our major campaigns each year. I must mention that no studies have been undertaken on the FAS in the Province. However, I am delighted to report that FARR has shown interest to conduct research on FAS in the Province and will be targeting the Northern Areas in the Nelson Mandela Metro.

The high number of alcohol-related road traffic injuries and deaths highlighted in the report, which also drew attention to the fact that a quarter of the country’s most dangerous roads are located in the Eastern Cape is a major concern for the ECLB.

For example, the study indicates that the roads that contribute significantly to the annual road accidents include: N2 between East London and Mthatha, N2 between Mthatha and Kokstad, Port St. Johns and Mbizana, Mthatha to Queenstown, and Mthatha to Port St. Johns. The study shows that alcohol plays a role in the number and nature of road accidents in the Eastern Cape.

In order to respond to findings of this study, we have developed quite a comprehensive intervention strategy. The strategy is underpinned by the following:
• Conducting 55 activity-based in-school youth awareness and education campaigns at targeted schools province-wide,
• Undertaking 29 community awareness campaigns too conscientise our communities about the dangers of alcohol abuse
• Working with our sponsors to execute three (3) comprehensive social responsibility programmes to encourage our communities to refrain from the abuse of liquor
• Embarking on about 28 mass media campaigns to enhance our education campaigns and social responsibility programmes

We have included our strategic intervention plan in you media packs.

As I conclude, let me underline the fact that as ECLB we consider media as our key strategic partners in our efforts to reduce the scourge of alcohol abuse in the Eastern Cape. Therefore, we look forward working with you!

I thank you.

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