Alcohol and Poverty in Africa

posted in: Poverty 0

Besi Besi

You would be forgiven for not spotting the link between alcohol and poverty in Africa. In fact if you asked me a question such as  HOW CAN POOR PEOPLE AFFORD ALCOHOL ?  I would not be surprised at all.

Poverty as a result of alcohol abuse in developing countries is wide spread, however it is unlcear how well reported it is as a contributing factor to extreme poverty.

My work at Ethnic Supplies brings me face to face with those at the receiving end of alcohol related poverty.  On my last visit I was introduced to Besi pictured here. I found her story and those of her fellow weavers heart wrenching. The women spoke of husbands without formal employment but pass their days drinking, local beer. I naively asked where they get the money for beer from. The women told me that the men take up casual work, however that they never bring those wages home and instead spend it all on alcohol.

This means that women become the sole bread winners in the household and given the lack of jobs in these rural areas women struggle to access employment and therefore the family becomes caught in the poverty trap.

My good friend and Environmental Engineer Ivan Kibuka-Kiguli had this to say

There is a co-realtion between alchol and poverty . It appears that if folk  can’t afford to pay for the alcohol  moneywise, they’ve got ‘plenty’ of time for  brewing it and growing the ingredients.  This leaves little time for doing other stuff. This was certainly my observation during my last visit to SW Uganda.

Ivan raised an interesting point  too, some of these folk drink because they are unemployed or lack anything meaningful to occupy them and as they don’t necessarily have to the money to pay for alcohol  in order to access they pass their days drinking.  They are certainly  unlikely to find any work or anything meaningful to do for that matter whilst drunk, Catch22?? perhaps!

The implications of this way of life are increased domestic violence normally towards women and children, unedcuated children, that will never have a chance to gain formal employment, this then creates a cycle of poverty for generations to come.

Aid and Donor agencies should take the issue of alcohol into account when seeking to end extreme poverty in the developing world.

I would very interested in hearing from others with differing views or similar expreiences


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