Alcohol in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1850 to the Present

Sub-Saharan Africa is whole of the area which is in the south of the Sahara desert. The region consists or includes the following countries lying south of the Sahara desert:

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  1. Angola
  2. Burundi
  3. Cape Verde
  4. Central African Republic
  5. Chad
  6. Comoros
  7. Djibouti
  8. Equatorial Guinea
  9. Eritrea
  10. Gabon
  11. Gambia
  12. Guinea-Bissau
  13. Liberia
  14. Mali
  15. Mauritania
  16. Sao Tome and Principe
  17. the Seychelles
  18. Somalia
  19. South Sudan
  20. Zimbabwe

If we look up countries for sub-Saharan countries with a Political agenda, then we see that consists of almost all the African countries that are fully or partially located in the southern region of the Sahara desert but excludes Sudan or Zimbabwe, even though it lies in the Eastern lands of the Sahara desert. Also countries like Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and Mauritania are geographically counted as a part of the Sub-Saharan Africa but are also Arab states and part of the Arab world.

According to Isidore S. Obot from Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, Jos, Nigeria, in his research “ALCOHOL USE AND RELATED PROBLEMS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA” published by African Journal of Drug & Alcohol Studies, 5(1), 2006, “Data from the World Health Organization Global Alcohol Database (GAD) show a wide variation in per capita consumption of recorded alcohol in African countries, ranging from less than 1 liter of pure alcohol in some (mostly Muslim) countries to more than 10 liters in a couple of others. For all countries, a pattern of increasing per capita consumption emerged in the 1960s, continued throughout the 70s, and peaked around 1979 at about 4.5 litres. The steady rise in consumption paralleled post-independence economic boom in many countries, just as the slight decline in per capita consumption in the past two decades might be associated with worsening economic conditions. Today, the average per capita consumption is a little less than 4 liters, less than half of the European average. These figures do not account for much (in many cases the larger part) of the alcohol consumed in the form of traditional beverages since these are not reflected in official records. Though a lot remains to be known about drinking and alcohol-related problems in Africa, there are a few consistent finding from survey research.”

This extract indicates that the extensive use of alcohol in the Sub Saharan region is not a new phenomenon and the usage has only increased with the passing time to cater to the taste of the people dwelling there. There has been a trend of consuming alcohol in this region through the late years of the 1800’s till the present day scenario. We see the tendency of high risk sexual behaviors among the population consuming large quantities of alcohol in the region.

Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, NY 13244, USA, did a research about the issue and devised a strategy. “Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) contains 10% of the world's population and 60% of all people living with AIDS. Consequently, research investigating risk factors associated with HIV acquisition is a public health priority and one such risk factor is alcohol consumption. Our empirical studies on the association of alcohol and high-risk sexual behavior in SSA, focuses on measurable outcomes generated from quantitative data. A critique of the literature is provided, with attention to methodological concerns. Empirically based theoretical orientations were used to interpret the reviewed research and to stimulate discussion about how to improve the state of the current literature. Based on this discussion, a model of alcohol and high-risk sexual behavior in an African context is proposed in order to integrate the existing literature and highlight areas in need of continued research.”

According to Isidore S. Obot’s study, “globally, per capita consumption of alcohol is about 5 liters of ethanol per person in the adult population. The highest level of drinking by adults in the world is in Europe where adult per capita consumption is more than 10 liters. Europe has recorded declines in per capita consumption for more than two decades though the trend has been of increasing consumption in some parts of the continent and among young people in general. Overall, the average consumption in Africa is about 4 litres of absolute alcohol.”

In Africa the most common way of drinking has the highest potential for causing health or social harm. in a major survey in central and southern Nigeria, 52% of male and nearly 40% of female respondents reported heavy episodic drinking in the past year, and among drinker’s heavy consumption was common practice (Ibanga et al., 2005). A similar survey in Uganda showed that 46% and 17.6% of male and female drinkers, respectively, engaged in heavy episodic drinking (Tumwesigye & Rogers, 2005).

Therefore if we observe carefully the drinkers have a tendency to consume more in a short time or to drink apart from meals, drinking very frequently or simply just to get high and drunk. To determine the types and levels of problems due to drinking habits in people of a particular country or a group of people it is important to note their way of consuming alcohol that is their pattern of drinking.

According to a study, 12 sub-Saharan African countries were to be with the highest rates of healthy years lost due to alcohol out of the 20 nations observed, in 2013. The meaning of losing Healthy years is the number of years lost when people die early or suffer from a disability. Two southern African countries, Lesotho and Namibia, were seen in the top five positions with the highest levels of early death and disability from alcohol use.

In 1990, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda most early death and disability from alcohol use came into the top 5 positions. By 2013, these three countries dropped to ranks 17, 9 and 12, respectively, while Lesotho and Namibia moved up to ranks 2 and 4, respectively, from their 1990 rankings of 46 and 218.

It is alarming that in the Sub-Saharan Africa alcohol use is the 3rd leading risk factor causing early death and disability just after unsafe sex, the largest share in the causes of early death and disability in this region, and childhood under nutrition. Sub – Saharan Africa has alcohol use causing more early death and disability than unsafe water and inadequate breastfeeding. Now all of the deaths are not just because of alcohol poisoning or health reasons but also people driving drunk or committing violent acts or suicide while under the influence. Alcohol use is also linked to early death and disability from tuberculosis.

Looking at all the factors it is a motivating factor that the aim under Sustainable Development Goal 3 specifically focuses on alcohol use, focusing on the issue to “strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.” It is very crucial for the sub-Saharan African countries, particularly in southern Africa, address this global health threat.

Sub – Saharan African history is quite a vivid topic with its various aspects and one such aspect is the influence of alcohol in the continent and its effects on the health of its people. It seems very interesting to read about it but when it comes to making an assignment on it an analyzing different aspects together and judging the impact of each , it becomes a tedious task and more so if you do not have any constant guidance. And if you do not understand the whole history then it is an extremely difficult task to attempt an assignment related to it. But now you don’t need to worry anymore. At assignmenthelp.net we are here to help you and write your assignments according to your directions and will customize it according to your level of understanding as we understand the value of each mark.

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