Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua together with other leaders from Central Kenya will hold consultations in Nyeri on ending consumption of alcohol and substance abuse.
Speaking at Elysian Hotel, Kiambu County, during Githunguri Constituency Mentorship Dinner and launch of “Food4Education” meal programme organised by area MP Gathoni Wa Muchomba, the Deputy President said leaders have a responsibility of ridding off illicit alcohol and substance abuse.
“I will call a meeting in Nyeri County of leaders from the five counties of Central Kenya in two weeks. We will discuss the alcoholism menace and come up with a decision; we will make an announcement,” he said.
The expected leaders include senators, governors, county commanders, the regional commander and coordinator, commissioners, among others.
The counties are Murang’a, Kiambu, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kirinyaga.
The Deputy President said the youth in the region are no longer productive in family and nation building because they are drunk for most parts of the day or sleeping by the roadside to recover and go back for more alcohol.
“We are losing an entire generation to the illicit liquor being sold in Central Kenya. Youths have become zombies,” said Mr Gachagua.
The Deputy President has been vocal in calling on counties to regulate issuance of license for alcohol outlets to minimise intrusion by unscrupulous traders who are selling substandard drinks.
His concerns are based on the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), which has established that since the inception of devolution, there has been a sharp increase of alcohol outlets.
Mr Gachagua has also blamed county administration officers for laxity or being compromised to allow for illicit brew and substance abuse to thrive.
According to the NACADA report of 2023, at least 12.8 percent of people in Central Kenya between 15 and 65 years old consume alcohol against a national rate of 11.8 percent.
While the national use of portable spirits, which are part of the illicit brews, stands at 2.5 percent, in Central Kenya, the consumption is at 4.1 percent.
Further, the agency has established that mental health and substance use disorders are on the increase across the country and public rehabilitation facilities are few and unaffordable to a majority of those in need of these services.
At least 90 percent of the existing ones are private. For instance, alcohol related disorders are 3,199,119 nationally. On the other hand, at least use of any one substance has resulted in 4,733,152 disorders.
Further, more resources should be invested in preventive education, research, training and capacity building of addiction professionals.
In addition to being involved in resolving fighting the alcohol menace, Ms wa Muchomba is spearheading school meals, teenage menstrual hygiene career guidance and football tournaments under her mentorship programmes.
“We want to promote local farmers because food for the school meal will be sourced from Githunguri. Our aim is also to improve nutrition amongst children, school attendance and increase transition rate,” said MP Wamuchomba.
She said rehabilitated youth are being trained for jobs secured abroad under a memorandum of understanding between Mount Kenya University and companies in Germany, which require specific skills.
Present were Principal secretary State department of Energy Mr Alex Wachira, Chief Administrative Secretary Isaac Mwaura, MPs Waithaka Machua (Kiambu town MP) and Onesmus Nguro Ngogoyo (Kajiado North) and a host of other political, community, religious and business leaders from Kiambu county.
Describing the DP as a mentor, Ms Wamuchomba said Mr Gachagua’s leadership was admirable as she oftens advocates for the country’s socio-economic development.
The leaders said they will continue supporting President William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza administration.