Fighting drug abuse through community interventions

By Thabisani Dube


Zimbabwe is experiencing a serious drug and substance abuse challenge which is threatening to tear
apart its moral fabric, especially among the youth. Health and social experts say a whole generation
of youth may be wiped out by this debilitating challenge.
Key research findings indicate that the country’s drug abuse prevalence is 57 percent among young
Commonly abused drugs in Zimbabwe include Codeine; Methamphetamine (crystal meth, commonly
known as meth or locally as mutoriro); Glue; Bronclee (Bronco); Cane spirit; Cocaine, Cannabis
(which is mostly abused or traded under a variety of street names such as – mbanje, ganja, dope,
weed, grass, among others,
Limited knowledge about the effects of drugs abuse and stress were identified as the major factors
that led to substance and drug abuse among the youth.
Drug rehabilitation centres countrywide are full with drug abuse addicts and are unable to cope with
the rising demand to accommodate new drug abuse survivors for rehabilitation programs. The
centres are estimated to be holding or treating at least 5,000 people at any time, with thousands
others not coming forward for rehabilitation, or not getting any assistance at all.
According to a 2019 World Health Organisation report, Zimbabwe has the highest rate of 15 -19-
year-olds engaging in heavy “episodic drinking” in Africa, with 70.7 percent of males and 55.5
percent of females participating. To make matters worse, the affected groups were also heavily
involved in drug dealing and use.
Research shows that kids whose parents and caregivers persevere and talk to them about the
dangers of drugs abuse on a regular basis are less likely to use drugs than those who do not have
these conversations.
Studies on drug abuse, on attitudes and reactions to abuse should be initiated in schools and tertiary
institutions. Public awareness is also vital to prevent drug abuse. Education on drug abuse and
research must be conducted with a wide range of stakeholders to tame the tide of drug abuse cases.
In an interview, 24-year-old Kundai Masache has observed the above problems. Masache was born
and bred in Kwayedza Village in Marondera. He remembers how the drug abuse challenges had
haunted his community and experienced the same challenges.
Masache is the founder of a youth – led trust, World Change Organisation (WOCO), established in
2019. Speaking to New Ziana, he said with the help of the (WOCO), in collaboration with the
Netherlands Embassy in Zimbabwe, he launched the youth empowerment centre, which is the first
in Marondera. The centre addresses young people’s social and economic needs to keep them
occupied and curb drug abuse.

Located at Faith Ministries Church in Marondera, the centre will be a vocational training hub for
young people in egg production and other income generating activities,
WOCO has been actively creating safe havens for young women in rural areas of Zimbabwe by
donating pads, detergents, toiletries, floor polish and shoe polish.
“I initiated an Anti-drug abuse campaign in Marondera involving 1,000 men. We also established an
anti-drug abuse district committee to curb drug and substance abuse in partnership with school
heads, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium
Enterprises Development, and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation”, said Masache.
He added: “The centre will cater for 120 youths. 60 percent young women and 40 percent young
men between the ages of 18-30”.
“Last year, I was recognised as a gender champion by the Dutch embassy. The recognition came with
a small grant that will cover the egg production project and the publishing of a book on GBV and
drug abuse” he said.
Speaking at the centre commissioning ceremony in Marondera recently, Constable Nciphile Sibanda
of Marondera Central Police Community Relations Department, said drug abuse is illegal in
Zimbabwe and punishable by fine or prison terms, or both as it contributes to gender based
“Drug abuse is a crime in Zimbabwe. What we call drug abuse is the wrong use of drugs that is
ingested by an individual into the body system that may alter the normal functioning of the body or
nervous system.”
Substance abuse can lead to a range of short and long-term psychiatric complications, such as
addiction, stress, depression, anxiety, suicide and even psychosis.
“Some people develop mental health illnesses because of taking illicit drugs. Drugs can make some
people crave to indulge in abnormal sex practices. Cases of sexual abuse, gender-based violence and
even rape are on the increase as a result of drug and substance abuse,” explained Sibanda
In addition, drug abuse can have a devastating impact on communities, resulting in increased
violence, robberies, and unemployment.
The main goal for the Marondera youth rehabilitation project is to reduce food insecurity, reducing
drug and substance abuse among young people, improving community relations, and lowering the
risk of new HIV infections by giving equal opportunities to young men and women. Young people will
be provided with practical solutions for earning a decent living through acquiring life skills, reduce
exposure and the risk of new HIV infections, and address illicit drugs and substance abuse, which
typically lead to committing petty crimes and conflict in the communities.
As a way of addressing the drug abuse challenge, Zimbabwe launched the Zimbabwe National Drug
Master Plan (2020-2025) which aims to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to
address the rise in substance and drug abuse in the country. This was a response to both increases in
substance abuse and lack of specialist drug treatment.
Within the master plan, the government says 60 percent of patients admitted in mental health
institutions suffer from substance and drug abuse-induced disorders.
Zimbabwe has few specialist drug and substance abuse rehabilitation services, largely a reflection of
how recent the crisis is for the country. With the rising problem, some private medical and voluntary

organizations are now offering rehabilitations services. But the number of these new service
providers is difficult to quantify.
The country has received a wake –up call regarding the high rate of drug abuse and it is critical for all
key stakeholders to find a lasting solution to this social and health crisis afflicting the nation.

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