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Young People

Guiding The Youth Away from Drugs Key in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

By Maawiya Mohammed

The Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth marks the 12th of August, International Youth Day. The day was first endorsed and celebrated in 1999 and 2000 respectively following a recommendation by the World Conference of Ministers of Youth held in Lisbon from 8 – 12 August 1998. The day was endorsed in order to recognize the role young people play in creating positive global change. It also aims to promote the youth’s voices and rights while also addressing the challenges that they face.

This year’s campaign focuses on showcasing young people’s resourcefulness, leadership, and resilience under the theme “Celebrating Ways #Youth Lead as Agents of Change for The Global Goals.” The day will be about acknowledging the ways in which the youth contribute towards the achievement of global goals. These global goals also referred to as sustainable development goals (SDGs), are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all with the youths being used as the driving force to achieving them.

This year’s youth day will be among the most campaigned for International Youth Days in a long time since the United Nations feel that for the first time in decades, the development progress of the SDGs is regressing. The UN feels the progress is reversing under the combined impacts of climate disasters, conflicts together with COVID-19 effects. It is because of this that the youth remain one of the greatest hopes to achieving sustainable development goals.

However, to the above saving grace - the youth - lies a common foe. The indulgence of youths in drugs poses the greatest challenge in them helping to achieve global goals. The World Drug Report 2023 says the youth populations are the most vulnerable to using drugs and are also more severely affected by substance use disorders in several regions across the world. In Africa, the report found that 70 percent of people in treatment are under the age of 35.

Here in Kenya, according to the latest National Survey on The Status of Drugs and Substance Use in Kenya released by the authority, one in every 11 youth aged between 15 and 24 were currently using at least one drug. Additionally one in every 5 youth aged between 25 and 35 were currently using at least one drug.
From the above statistics and numbers, we can clearly see that the youths are the most affected group by drugs. So, if they are the ones tasked with contributing to the achievement of the long-term SDGs then shouldn’t they be guided away from the menace that is drug abuse?

This can be achieved by getting them into programs to keep them busy considering idleness and peer pressure are among the top reasons why youth do drugs. They can then gather, exchange ideas, think of creative solutions, and contribute well to the achievement of global goals.