By Caroline Katana
Faith Community Against Drug Abuse organisation has launched a Faith leaders’ handbook to guide them in the fight against drug abuse in Kwale County.
This project was funded by the Danish government under the International Aid Services Denmark.
Faith based organisations (FBOs) operating in Kwale are basis of information included included in the handbook ranging from alcohol, drug abuse prevention to counselling.
“This handbook will be a valuable source of reference to many a faith organisations dealing with drug disorders,” FACADA project officer Emmanuel Pendo Kahaso.
Alcohol usage among Kenyans aged between 15 and 65 years stand at 12.2 percent; tobacco 8.3 percent; khat 4.1 percent and bhang 1.0 percent while multiple drug usage standards at 6.0 percent.
Out of the usage of tobacco countrywide, the Coast region has the second highest percentage at 9.2 percent.
_Khat/miraa_ users’ disorders is also the second highest in the region at 73 percent, apart from recording the highest prevalence of bhang disorders in the nation.
According to Teenswatch Rehabilitation Centre’s 2020 statistics Kwale has more than 3,500 drug addicts.
Kahaso, speaking to media after the launch of the handbook at Free Pentecostal fellowship in Kenya church-Ukunda, said substance use disorders and psychoactive substances continue to be a major issue in the world today.
“The use of psychoactive substances has been proven to have negative social effects such as emotional dysregulation, antisocial behaviour and poor patterns of relationship building.”
Statistics of World Health Organisation 2015 indicates that young people, families, workplaces and communities have all negatively been impacted on this issue.
Kahaso noted that the strategies presented in the manual handbook are aligned and relevant to all who have role in addressing the physical, social, emotional and spiritual health and welfare of members of the congregation.
“The book will therefore give religious communities an opportunity to invest their energy and resources towards reducing their use and abuse by all people in the society.”
NACADA’s survey indicates that the most commonly abused drugs and substances are alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, glue, miraa and psychotropic substances such as cocaine in the country.
Kwale like all other Kenyan counties suffers from unemployment crisis and high prevalence of drug abuse among the youth. The county’s unemployment rate stands over 10,000 youths.
NACADA’s senior public education and advocate officer Lucy Wanjiku says they are partnering with different stakeholders to end drug menace in the country.
“In coast region, we have experienced increasing numbers of heroine users so we are trying to bring together community based organisations to help recovery of heroine users, also we have the Kombani rehabilitation centre in Kwale county whereby NACADA partnered with with the county government of Kwale to assist drug addicts.”
According to her drug abuse is a major cause of mental health disorders among the users.
“Substance use affects braincells making the user develop abnormal behaviour also drugs contribute to depression or psychosis.”
She urged parents to take care of their children to ensure they do not engage in drug abuse.
“Children as young as six to nine years are alcohol and bhang addicts and this is due to poor parenting. Parents have neglected their responsibilities to their children. It’s ideal for parents to raise their children on religious foundation.”
She says that NACADA is planning to carry out lifeskills programs in schools targeting Grade 5 pupils.
FACADA champion Sheikh Hamisi Mwachirumu praised the project saying the handbook will empower them.
“This book will give us strength to reach communities at the grassroots level and equip our day to day teachings because the book captured photos of every drug substance for easy understanding unlike before where we could not differentiate or name drug substances.”
He quoted the Quran 5:90 _91 that says: “Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?”
He also quoted the Bible Proverbs 20 :1 “Wine is a mockery and beer a brawler, whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
Ukunda FPFK church pastor Geoffrey Wanyoike said there was need to eliminate religious differences when dealing with the drug menace afflicting the Kenyan youths.
“This project brought love and religious tolerance among clerics unlike before where muslims and Christians work differently but today we have joined hands to fight drug abuse in our communities guided by this handbook.”
Thomas Banner, working for International Aid Services Denmark Organisation, said they were working closely with Free Pentecostal fellowship of Kenya in a number of projects including climate climate.
“Here in Kwale county is engaging church leaders on challenges facing communities and they have focused on drug abuse because young people have engaged in drug abuse which is destroying their lives so faith leaders are trying to come up with solutions.”
The International Aid Services Denmark is working in 7 to 8 countries in Africa continent.