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Study reveals shocking details on alcohol abuse by students

By Linah Benyawa | May 26th 2016


Emily Maese, a head teacher, gives her views during a training organised by Kenya Breweries Limited on how to prevent students from abusing alcohol. [PHOTO:GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]

About 36 per cent of students consume alcohol, a survey on underage drinking in Kenya shows.

Of those abusing the drink, female students account for 42 per cent.

Beers and spirits are the most consumed alcoholic beverages by minors at 59.8 per cent and 58 per cent respectively, according to the findings of the study unveiled in Mombasa yesterday.

The survey singled out peer pressure as the leading driver of alcohol consumption among minors.

The shocking revelation was contained in a study by National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) and Students Campaign Against Drugs (SCAD), which was released yesterday at the ongoing Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) conference.


Nairobi County was the hardest hit by the vice, with the report indicating that four out of 10 students are consuming alcohol.

Kenya Breweries Trade Marketing Manager Tony Shasuvila disclosed that the firm had launched a campaign to sensitise the society about underage drinking and its effects, and was targeting over 1,000 school principals and heads.

Mr Shashuvila shared the findings of the study with the head teachers, who appeared shocked to learn that 4.9 per cent of students who consume alcohol find it within schools.

The study, which involved pupils aged between 12 and 18 in boarding and day schools across Kenya, showed that a majority of those consuming alcohol had their first drink while aged between 12 and 16 . The findings show that 49.3 per cent had their first drink from relatives.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that 29.9 per cent of the students abusing alcohol are in Form 4, 21.3 per cent in Form 3, 18.3 per cent in Form 2 and 6.3 per cent in Form 1.

It is not indicated when the study was conducted but the report concludes that 32 per cent of the underage alcohol or drug abusers are raised by single parents or grandparents. Peer pressure forced 36.5 per cent of this group to take to alcohol while 10 per cent of the children sampled claimed they were driven to abuse by “stress”, 35.5 drink for fun while 2.3 per cent were induced by family members.

Boys’ schools account for the highest underage alcohol consumption while the habit tends to be common for those that receive between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000 per term as pocket money.


“With the campaign that we started in March, last year, we have so far trained 1,600 retail staff and 5,000 outlets. We are also targetting 1,048 school principals because the issue of alcoholism in schools in alarming as we have seen from recent studies,” said Shasuvila.

Some principals expressed concern that alcohol advertisements were being aired during prime time.

“If we need to change the drinking trend, then the concept of alcohol advertisements need to be changed,” said Fred Awour, a principal.

But Shasuvila said the advertisements mainly target people of legal age and that no one below the age of 18 is lured into drinking through the adverts.

“The adverts mainly target people of legal age who are above 18. We don’t market our products to the youth, we want them to be productive members of the society and that is why we are running these campaigns,” explained Shasuvila.

The study also showed that 32 per cent of the children living with single parents were consuming alcohol and those who live with their grandparents stand at 30 per cent.

“It is also revealed that single mothers are so busy working forgetting their children, with 59 per cent of the children drinking alcohol while those living with single fathers standing at 43 per cent,” he said.

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