By Nyasha Mutena
In a move that is expected to arm the youth to fend for their livelihoods and ultimately avoid pitfalls like illicit substances use during the COVID-19 imposed lockdowns, a local non profit organization, Safe Haven Trust will conduct a skills training program.
This development comes at a time when COVID-19 global health emergency and its economic and social impacts have disrupted nearly all aspects of life for all groups in society. People of different ages, however, are experiencing its effects in different ways.
For young people, and especially for vulnerable youth, the COVID-19 crisis poses considerable risks in the fields of education, employment, mental health and disposable income. Moreover, while youth and future generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the crisis, their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic, social and equity considerations.
Despite facing great difficulties, many adolescents and young people have found different ways to face new challenges and cope with their emotions. Unfortunately for most drug abuse has become the new norm.
In an interview with the Voice News, Safe Haven Trust Co-founder, Mr Edison Mudyiwa said;
“We are trying to introduce a campaign which is zero tolerance to idleness. It will be targeting the youth who are not doing anything during this COVID-19 imposed lockdown. We are going to rope in people with various skill sets so that they try to teach the youth skills such as meat processing, sausage making, burger patty making, perfumes, beading, reusable sanitary wear and so on so that the youth have something to do which is not capital intensive. It’s very sad that most of our youth have resorted to substance abuse,” he said.
While the impact of COVID-19 on drug challenges is not yet fully known, the analysis suggests that the pandemic has brought increasing economic hardship that is likely to make illicit drug cultivation more appealing to fragile rural communities. The social impact of the pandemic – driving a rise in inequality, poverty, and mental health conditions particularly among already vulnerable populations – represent factors that could push more people into drug abuse.
In Zimbabwe, an estimated 180 people in the country died directly due to substance abuse disorders, a number that has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
However Mr Mudyiwa says to avoid exacerbating intergenerational inequalities and to involve young people in building societal resilience, governments need to anticipate the impact of mitigation and recovery measures across different age groups, by applying effective governance mechanisms.
Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network Director, Mr Wilson Box insists that there is also a need to infuse policies that are friendly to drug abusers if the the country is going to combat the drug abuse challenge in the country. He says the national drug policies should take on board drug abusers who are victims of peer pressure, social circumstances and drug peddlers who are roaming the streets scot-free.