Samia reveals government’s new plan to keep youth off drugs

President Samia Suluhu Hassan

What you need to know:

  • President Hassan said despite concerted efforts drug abuse in Tanzania had worsened, impacting on the health of people.

Arusha. The government will use the youth skills upgrading programme launched recently to fight drug abuse.

Through it, youth are to be in supported to engage in production activities, thereby distracting them from drug addiction.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan said more resources would channelled to “Building a Better Tomorrow”, a recently initiated facility for youth-led production ventures.

“It is one way keep the youth away from substance abuse and instead engage in productive tasks,” she said.

The Head of State disclosed this when gracing the climax of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking held nationally in Arusha.

“Building a Better Tomorrow”, launched last year, aims at improving youth’ agricultural skills as it attempts to address the unemployment rate among the youth.

Besides agriculture, its mandate extended to livestock production, fisheries and beekeeping for honey production.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan receives an award from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in recognition of her role in the fight against drug abuse and traffic during the national commemoration of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Arusha on June 25, 2023. PHOTO | STATE HOUSE

President Hassan said at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium that the government was increasingly getting concerned by drug abuse by the young generation.

She implored parents to play their responsibilities in addressing the menace which destroys the lives of youth.

“Children from both the poor and rich families are affected. We need a sober society,” she at a well-attended ceremony.

The Head of State added that under the “Building a Better Tomorrow” initiative youth would be assisted become entrepreneurs.

The Vocational Education Training Authority (Veta) centres and allied colleges would be roped in to open productive activities for the young people away from drugs.

President Hassan said despite concerted efforts drug abuse in Tanzania had worsened, impacting on the health of people.

Consumption of illicit drugs was particularly one source of increasing prevalence of TB and other infections in the country.

She said although the inflow of high potent narcotics from abroad has lately been reduced by 90 percent, it was not the case with those locally sourced.

Cocaine and heroin entry into Tanzania has been suppressed to only ten percent unlike in the past, thanks to heightened vigilance.

However, the peddling and consumption of marijuana (bhang) and khat which are locally produced or sourced from the neighbouring countries, has increased.

She called on the Drugs Control and Enforcement Agency (DCEA) to share intelligence information with their Isles counterparts in order to tame drug trafficking.

To boost anti-drug fight, the government has increased the agency’s expenditure budget to Sh24.1 billion in the coming 2023/24 from Sh12 billion during 2022/23.

DCEA commissioner general Aretas Lyimo said generally incidences of drugs in Tanzania have reduced by about 60 percent in the past year.

However, there had been increase of volumes of marijuana (bhang) and khat to 615 tonnes impounded in past one year.

He mentioned regions leading in the production of bhang (Cannabis sativa) as Arusha,Mara, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Njombe and Morogoro.

Mr Lyimo said the agency has now directed its efforts in rehabilitation of the drug addicts and that 50 sober houses have been established for rehabilitation of the same.

Besides the sober houses, there were 15 clinics in various regions across the established for treating people whose health has been impacted by the drugs.

Earlier, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy and Parliamentary Affairs), Ms Jenista Mhagama, said increased budget for DCEA was enough sign that the government was serious on anti-drugs fight. She said the government has to take such measures because drugs were robbing the economy of youth; the productive segment of the population.

“Drug addiction in Tanzania is still on the rise despite reduction of high potent heroin and cocaine that gets into the country,” she said.

Arusha Regional Commissioner John Mongella said the region has one of the high grade marijuana grown on its fertile soil on the slopes of Mount Meru.

“This is nothing to be proud about.

You said it is organic marijuana, but it is killing our youth.”

“We will fight against cultivation of bhang,”Mr Mongella said.