WHO evidence shows that Zambian women are the biggest consumers of alcohol in the world. The horrible reality is that alcohol destroys lives in Zambia.
The survey shows that Zambia as a nation has the worst problem with alcohol that any other country in the world with men and women consuming enormous amounts of alcohol. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the statistics presented by the World Health Organization is that the problem is worst among Zambian women with the evidence suggesting that 42% of Zambian women drink to excess at least once a week. The statistics unfortunately do not lie as wherever and whenever one travels in Zambia one will witness drunkenness. The statistics only partly reflect the reality as well as it is commonplace to see men, women and children drunk to an extreme one might consider impossible at all times of day and night. I have seen elderly women barely able to walk due to intoxication in the middle of an afternoon and have witnessed teenage girls taking drinks from much older men in bars across Zambia. Many teenage girls fall into dependency upon alcohol and often will take drinks from men in return for sex. Alcohol abuse in Zambia is explicitly linked to prostitution and subsequently to the spread of HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancy and other associated social evils. The situation is out of control across the country.
The situation isn't confined to cities either - alcoholism extends into the compounds and villages. Cheap alcohol is readily available across the country. Some is sold legally in shops where other brews are made in homes and sold to unlicensed shebeens for sale within communities. One can buy alcohol at any time of day or night from markets that trade all night. Although such trade is illegal the law is not enforced by the authorities.
The problem permeates across the whole of society but as always those who suffer most are those living in poverty and tragically the biggest victims are often children. The most tragic aspect which the statistics do not reflect is the level of drunkenness and alcoholism among children. It is no wonder children turn to alcohol. After all what sort of example are they set by their parents, uncles and aunts and even grandparents? One of the busiest nights of the year in Zambia is when Grade 12 children complete their exams. Children flood into bars and nightclubs and often subsequently in to a life dominated by alcohol abuse.
I only hope that the Zambian government is now stirred into action and legislates to reduce access to alcohol in the country. President Ian Khama in Botswana adopted hardline measures to reduce alcohol abuse in his country and I would suggest it's time that President Sata adopted similar measures to his neighbours. The banning of “Tujili jili” in 2012 showed the political will to address the issue of alcoholism in the nation but unfortunately little has happened since and traders have now circumnavigated the legislation but repackaging cheap alcohol for sale to the Zambian public.