Kwetso Foundation, a registered Non-Governmental Organisation has pioneered a programme referred to as Stay Healthy, Stay Away from Substance Abuse #SHSASA. The hope is to see the programme have an impact amongst the youth and ultimately see the youth as change agents in their communities. The aim of the programme is to tackle the socio-economic problem of substance abuse amongst the youth. The focus is not only on the youth but on society in general.
The substance pandemic has bothered many civil society spaces, activists, NGOs, governments and society at large. The time has come to put a full stop to the problem and resolve it. The time has come where solutions must be collectively achieved because the problems faced are a collective burden.
This input will reflect primarily on the impact of substance abuse on the youth in developing countries with particular reference to South Africa.
Whilst the world is faced with challenges ranging from global warming to scales of powers of sovereign states, the youth in many developing countries are infested in substance abuse. Many of these developing countries like South Africa have a history of conflict and thus socio-economic inequality became a thorny issue. Many of the youth find solace in crime and substance abuse as a route to escape their realities. In the United Nations Youth and Drug Abuse report of 2003, it was mentioned that substance abuse composes of a variety of substances. The groups are as follows:
9. Tranquillizers/ sedatives (non-medical)
The use of the above substances creates a socially ill space and the youth becomes trapped in this space. Not only do drugs inhibit individual growth, they also inhibit the growth of any society that wants to achieve its development goals. In South Africa, the framework of development is the National Development Plan (NDP) which is in sync with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
With the youth being consumed through substance abuse, the goals will be ineffective because the target group is the youth. The youth remains the centre of development in any society, thus when the youth are addicted to substance abuse development takes the form of a tortoise velocity, it moves very slowly.
Substance abuse gives character to the social development challenges developing countries face which leads to crime in many respects. Many of the youth who use substances as identified above, are either unemployed, unskilled and highly economically inactive. Therefore, for them to continue feeding their habits, they need a form of income.
Most of these young people come from underprivileged homes and communities, that is why they need to be involved in crime to make an income so that they can feed their addiction. This cycle becomes contagious, it moves from one addict to the other whilst society becomes less-safer and more crime-ridden. This thwarts the country from moving ahead.
With the introduction of recreational activities and facilities, the youth can be converted from addiction to pillars of development. This however, requires dedication, political will and most importantly resources. Without there being a collective agenda in combating this problem, the youth will continue to drown in the pool of despair and poverty.
The best way to fix this problem is to create opportunities through sports, education, creatives and other means which can assist in achieving our agenda. The remedy is to keep the youth busy with productive activities which will also not only help them individually but also help to shape the communities they come from. Kwetso Foundation has identified sports as one of the tools of change and hope to achieve its goals through this.
Sports as former President Nelson Mandela once said “Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create
hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers”.
Director, Kwetso Foundation