The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) has recognised Governor Alex Tolgos for his efforts in fighting alcoholism in the country.
Governor Tolgos has been in the forefront in fighting second generation and illegal brew since the beginning of his first term in office which according to NACADA CEO Victor Okioma, was a big political gamble.
Speaking during a ceremony to honour more than 1200 reformed brewers in Iten, the anti-drug abuse agency boss said efforts by the governor had shown success and asked other leaders to support him.
He said: “It is encouraging to see these women today. I am happy with the county government for having thought on how to improve the lives of these mothers who were prisoners of illicit brew.”
The governor said he decided to embark on a mission to eradicate illicit brews in 2013 after a survey showed that Elgeyo Marakwet was one of the leading Counties hit by alcoholism.
He said: “It was not an easy task but we gave our best as we targeted the brewers in a bid to reduce alcohol in our villages. I received a lot of criticism but I had made the sacrifice even if it was going to affect my re-election.”
According to NACADA, more than 70 per cent of young people under the age of 29, which is a productive age group are abusing alcohol.
Tolgos said alcoholism has been a great challenge to several families which according to him has led to families braking up and many children dropped out of school as their parents are unable to raise their fees. “Many have lost their loved ones, others lost their jobs and several others rendered paupers due to the vice. These women out of our discussion said they were ready to stop brewing but the biggest challenge was an alternative source of income,” he added.
The County took the women for rehabilitation and training on alternative livelihoods at the Ukweli Training Centre in Ilula where the women picked areas they could do well back at home as a way of raising money.
While giving testimonies the women narrated how their families had been transformed since they stopped brewing.
Ruth Chepkok from Tugumoi said through support from the County of Elgeyo Marakwet, she had ventured into boda boda and baking business. “I make doughnuts (Kaa ngumu) and I am a happy woman. Nowadays my children are eating and dressing well, I am a living testimony that brewing of illicit liquor has no economic value. I am so sorry to those people whose families broke up as a result of drinking in my house,” she said.
Alice Bain, another reformed brewer from Marakwet West said looking back on her past was like a dream. “I sold changaa and busaa almost in a daily basis. But what is still surprising me is where the proceeds from the sales went to. After the rehabilitation, I can today sale eggs and milk from my farm. I am a changed woman. I ask those brewing to listen…there is hope out here,” said Mrs Bain.
The women are encouraged to form groups upon successful training in order to benefit from the government.
Anita Kimwatan, who is the CEC member for youth, sports women and social services, said the department had supported the women through poultry keeping, dairy and crop farming among other ways of income generating activities. “We have helped the women buy Posho mills, set up zero grazing units and even supplying them with tents to help them generate income,” she said during the function.