Anyone remember these? The 40% spirits packaged in a convenient little 100ml plastic sachet available in every single local shop for only 25 NZ cents?
Unfortunately, they are still everywhere. I biked to a meeting yesterday and the road was littered with them. I spied a 10 year-old sucking on one in her school uniform at 9:30am.
We began our fight to ban them at the beginning of last year. Our community organizing group Wakonye Kenwa campaigned on the radio. We presented our research to Gulu District Council. We lobbied Councilors and found them NGO funding from 8 different groups to fund their law making process. We found them a pro-bono lawyer to draft the law. We helped organize and pushed through all 6 law making meetings. When progressed stalled we collected over 10,000 signatures in support of the move to ban sachets, and organized our religious leaders to lead a public march to present the petition to Gulu District Council as a public statement of support for the process (and a wee nudge- kindly get on with it!).
This is Rose, one of our group. Last year she lost her son to alcohol. She has arthritis and HIV, but personally collected over 400 signatures. Here is one of her collection sheets
In January this year, Gulu District Council voted to pass the Alcohol Ordinance. It not only bans sachet alcohol, but introduces a whole host of alcohol restrictions. It will restrict drinking hours in bars..so that as Rose puts it ‘men actually go and do some work before they start sitting around drinking.’ It will restrict alcohol sale licenses to reduce the number of places that sell alcohol, stop under-age drinking, restrict marketing and advertising and much much more. In March, our law was sent to Kampala for the last step: the approval of the Attorney General:
But over three months later, still nothing. Our law is stuck in his office.Why? We are still trying to find out if its sitting forgotten about at the bottom of a large pile of papers, or if its provocative content means they’d rather just forget about it. Central Government sees alcohol sales as a lucrative tax collecting method. So right now we are asking some questions…
Why is our law being delayed? Who do we know with the right influence to find out? Who can advocate on our behalf in this Kampala office? How can we influence the right advocates to take action?
There is still a long road ahead… watch this space!