Tackling drug abuse in Rwanda

International Alert Rwanda recently launched an anti-drugs campaign as part of our work on reconciliation and socio-economic reintegration in the country, with support from Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust.

Drug abuse is a growing source of insecurity and conflict in Rwanda. It undermines young people’s personal development and their ability to play an active role in society, and can therefore hinder social cohesion and, in the long run, economic development.

“During the genocide, people were taught to consume drugs so that they could become fearless and actively partake in the killings,” says Alert’s Rwanda Country Manager Gloriosa Bazigaga. "Consequently, the youth who were supposed to build the country participated in destroying it and exterminating the lives of innocent human beings."

At a launch event on 24 April, organised in collaboration with Mukindo sector in Gisagara district, Southern province, attendees reflected on the situation of drug use in the sector. Young people were educated about the consequences of drug abuse on themselves and their communities. Attendees also discussed the mechanisms for preventing drug abuse, with everyone encouraged to play their part in helping to prevent it and mitigate the related consequences. (Pictured above, young people present a skit about fighting against drug abuse.)

The anti-drugs campaign activities will be undertaken in eight target sectors that are part of our broader reconciliation and reintegration project, and will be carried out over a period of three months. Local facilitators will hold ‘dialogue clubs’, where they can provide information to people on drug abuse, and how to prevent and tackle it.

“No one can think about living in peace and engaging in joint productive activities with others when his or her life is controlled by drugs,” said 19-year-old Alice Uwimana at the event. “As the youth, we have the responsibility to not only play a role in preventing drug use, but to also help those people who are already dealing with drug use and addiction to recover from their related consequences."

The event was also marked by the gifting of six televisions to the community, which will provide them with access to reliable information on issues related to reconciliation, reintegration and better livelihoods for their families.

You can find out more about our work on reconciliation and reintegration in Rwanda here.