Local Non Governmental Organisation Drug Fight Malawi executive director Nelson Zakeyu says the country is facing difficulties to develop partly because of the excess consumption of alcohol by men.
In an interview in Lilongwe, Zakeyu said alcohol, apart from contributing to gender-based violence, makes many of people lazy.
In Malawi, there are a few people who consume alcohol for leisure. A big number drink alcohol in large quantities and as a career. The end result is that families suffer and productivity in the workplace or in the fields goes down,” he said.
Zakeyu, who is also Alcohol Policy Alliance (APA) chief operating officer, said a recent study by Alma, a Norwegian organisation that also fights against alcoholism, found out that there are few Malawians who consume alcohol compared to people in Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe only that the few who drink do that in excess.
“What we also discovered as APA is that even poor people in the country drink more or less like those who are employed and are on a payroll either in government or the private sector.
“What this entails is that those who are poor will remain poor because they want to drink as if they have money,” he said.
Zakeyu said, apart from making families poor, alcohol has also led to feuds and if solutions are not found in good time, death may occur due to alcohol-related complications.
“In Malawi, it will be difficult for our agriculture sector to improve if people continue to drinking beer after harvesting because that could be the time they could have been busy with irrigation farming.
“After harvesting, a lot of Malawians indulge in what they call ‘kudzipepesa’ and this leads to laziness,” he said.
APA regional projects coordinator Jacqueline Nambala said gender-based violence is on the increase in the country partly because of alcoholism.
“We want to learn how alcoholism, masculinity and gender is related to the increase of gender- based violence. Men mostly feel not complete when they have not taken beer but we want to differ because you can be a man even when you have not taken one or two bottles,” she said.
Nambala urged government to hasten the process of passing the Alcohol Policy, saying it can help in the fight against alcoholism in the country.
Recently, there have been calls for government to ban alcohol packaged in sachets but tangible action is yet to be seen.