Alcohol Harms Reduction- the way forward!

The challenge: Alcohol is a legal product openly produced, distributed, sold and consumed. But we misuse it. Alcohol is involved in more loss of life and health than any other single cause except HIV AIDS.

It was estimated in 2016 that this cost the country R37.9 billion annually.

And how much crime, violence, grief, suffering and fear?

From the ‘dop system’ last century, we have been misusing alcohol.

VPUU is a partner within the AHR Provincial Gamechanger project. This is driven from the WCG Premier’s office as one of the 8 top provincial priorities.

Read the Western Cape Governments Alcohol Harms Reduction White Paper

It is worth noting that the liquor industry is not an identified partner. The World Health Organisation has advised against this.

Even so, there is a long history of mistrust between most owners and regulators or law enforcement. The fact that at present it is impossible to trade legally in alcohol within informal settlements, while a strong market exists makes illegal trading inevitable.   The challenge is to get all partners to accept the existing situation and agree a transition process to a legalized and less damaging one.

VPUU positions itself as a mediator in this process, and has a primary focus on encouraging communities to demonstrate some self-regulation, willingness to pursue alternative economic and recreational activities and protect their health. VPUU also assists communities to collect and use good quality data demonstrating their capacity to suggest solutions, cooperate and embrace change.

Watch Alcohol Harms Reduction: A Community Project.

Our way forward:

We have to be prepared to work in and with communities, build understanding and collaboration between thousands of unlicensed outlets, their customers and neighbours, local leadership, NGO’s, law enforcement, the Western Cape Liquor Authority, local and provincial government.   The liquor industry and its advertising must be brought into line with national health and safety priorities.

This will not be quick, it will not happen before trust and respect for the common good tame the mutual distrusts and personal interests that have got us to where we are.

Youth scoring goals not alcohol!
Youth scoring goals not alcohol!

4 pilot sites are supported by the AHG Gamechanger: in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Paarl.

VPUU is focused on community education and activation, self-regulation as a precursor to a licensing strategy for all alcohol outlets, and the promotion of alternatives with young adults in Paarl East.

Author: Chris Giles