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Drug Abuse Is A Threat to Peace and Stability in Kenya

By Simon Mwangi and Judith Twala

There’s overwhelming evidence that drug use undermines security in many regions of the world and evolves into major threats to political and social stability, the rule of law, human rights and economic development.

Drug trafficking on the other hand is fueling brutal insurgencies in various parts of the world, and Africa is serving not only as a trans-shipment route, but also as a production and consumption center. This is evidenced by the fact that research shows that drug routes are now meeting in the Sahara, aircrafts are replacing old-fashioned camel caravans, and terrorists and anti-government forces are financing their activities from the illegitimate profits.

Kenya is preparing for momentous elections which will see government changeover in less than two months. Already signs of politically instigated violence have been recorded in some parts of the country, and drug use cannot be ruled out as having contributed to some of those ugly scenes. The economic consequences of drug abuse severely burden local and national government resources and, ultimately, the taxpayer.

Children of individuals who abuse drugs often are abused or abandoned as a result of the persons' preoccupation with drugs. National-level studies have shown that parents who abuse drugs often put their need to obtain and abuse drugs before the health and welfare of their children. This therefore means that such individuals are willing to go to any length to steady their drug supply, which means even engaging in violence acts so long as they’re assured of monetary gain to sustain their drug dependence.

The ripple effect of people suffering from such disorders is a highly volatile society where the rule of law can be severely undermined and thus threats to peace and stability.  Drugs can also increase the likelihood of many kinds of criminal activity such as violent conflicts among competing trafficking groups. Those needing money to feed their drug habit may turn to theft, robbery and prostitution.

Well-intentioned development practices have attempted to prioritize pro-poor development and align anti-drugs policy with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But the evidence of these policy reforms are limited.

The SDGs provide an opportunity to appreciate that peacebuilding is fundamental to eradicating hunger and poverty, and to provide a structure to inspire a new, contextualized approach that commits governments to build counter-narcotics and peacebuilding initiatives on a sound foundation of research and understanding.

As the country heads to the transitional period it is critical that peaceful and cohesive co-existence are given due attention. Political formations angling for various positions, both local and national, should prioritize the fight against drugs. They need to commit to promoting programmes that will ensure that they will rid their areas of the menace of drug abuse otherwise they will have no people to be governed once they assume power.

Published on The Star 29th June 2022