She dropped the twins at the leader’s home so that government could see what to do with “its children” because she could not handle the burden of raising the twins alone.
The babies were only three months old but she had already started them on porridge because she didn’t have enough breast milk. Experts recommend that babies should exclusively breastfeed for six months but Manishimwe weaned them at half the period.
The father of the twins is not lazy; he works hard as a mason and earns an average income that can sustain his family but he either drinks from the money before being paid as a debt or spends all the money as it leaves the hands of the employer.
We need to focus on habitual drunkenness which is becoming an economic virus that not only reduces man-working hours but also takes the largest share of expenditure of meagre household income.
Most of financial decisions are taken by the man who will allocate more than half of the family income to satisfy his social needs, including consuming alcohol as the rest of the needs of the home remain relatively with no allocation, yet such unfunded needs benefit majority family members.
According to research conducted by a USAID-supported nutrition project called SPRING, Kisoro is second to Karamoja in having the most malnourished children in Uganda; yet it is one of the greenest districts in the country.
This is partly due to wasting household income on alcohol consumption, having large families and limited land that cannot produce adequate food for members of households.
Alcohol has been made available and cheaper through innovative production and marketing, especially the polythene packaging in small amounts that are affordable by majority of the population. Although it is said that men are three times more likely to consume and suffer negative effects of alcohol, women and young people, including school children, are usually seen sucking on the sachets of waragi.
Crude waragi sold without processing is readily available and cheap. It is said that some chemicals are added to strengthen the potency of this concoction, making it dangerous to health. The regulation of not allowing alcohol consumption for young people aged less than 18 years is not well implemented, risking many people to become alcoholics.
There are many occasions that require alcohol as a major factor in celebrations such as marriage, electioneering, and striking economic deals. But habitual alcohol intake leads to alcoholism, a major public health issue in Uganda.
Alcoholism or alcohol-dependency is a condition characterized by marked craving such that victims may no longer control their drinking habits even when there is an indicator that life is in danger accruing from alcohol abuse. Alcoholics develop greater tolerance to alcohol, requiring large amounts to reach intoxication.
Effects of alcoholism include accidents, memory loss and body tremors. Socially, alcoholics develop false self-confidence, leading to irresponsible acts such as risky sex, resulting into unplanned pregnancy and diseases such as HIV/Aids.
Excessive alcohol intake reduces productivity. It reduces important emotions such as guilt, shame, and anxiety which are required to improve self-control and rational decision-making. This results in less interest in work and uncontrolled expenditure of available resources.
To alcoholics, family planning is not a priority. This causes women not only to have risky pregnancies but also have unplanned children, leading to increased consumption and reduced income.
As we reflect on improving work and working conditions to expand employment opportunities and wealth creation, we need to reconsider policy formulation and implementation of alcohol production and intake to safeguard positive outcomes of hard-earned incomes.
The author is outgoing district health educator and aspiring LC-V chairman, Kisoro.