Alcohol and drug use in Nepal

The first large-scale alcohol and drug survey in Nepal was conducted by Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN) in collaboration with the Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.

This study was undertaken by Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN) in 2000 in order to generate basic knowledge on the use of alcohol and drug by the people of Nepal with reference to children. This study was a major activity of Local Action against Alcohol and Drugs, a joint project between CWIN and FORUT (Campaign for Development and Solidarity) which is a Norway based NGO that is engaged in development cooperation.

CWIN acts as children’s voice lobbying, campaigning and pressurizing the government to protect and promote children’s rights in the country, and to end all kinds of exploitation, abuse and discrimination against
children in its different local and national programmemes. Alcohol and other drug use have been internalised by CWIN as an important and necessary component in its work with children. In order to design an effective prevention programmeme, an acute need was felt to identify the real extent of alcohol and drug use in cultural, economic and social context.

This is the first comprehensive national study covering about 2,400 households in 16 districts representing both rural and urban areas as well as all ecological and development regions in Nepal.

Being a multicultural and mutli-ethnic country, Nepal is largely ambivalent society regarding alcohol use. With the passage of time, traditional sanctions and caste-bound censors have disappeared. The use of alcohol and drug affects all strata of society.

Adults see the major impacts of alcohol use on children’s life as violence and physical abuse (33.4%), neglect and mental abuse (28.5%), deprived from education (20.2%) and children started to use alcohol (11.1%). Other impacts include malnutrition and children run away from home. Excessive use of alcohol often results in loss of wealth, which causes
people to get into debt and poverty. Then, people can not afford children’s schooling, leading to likelihood of children to drop out from school. Excessive use of alcohol is also linked to the economic exploitation in some communities of Nepal.

Types of impact as perceived by children due to their parent’s use of alcohol is examined and considerable proportion of children (29.4%) reported that the impact of parent’s use of alcohol on children life exists. The study concludes that even if the importance of alcohol is embedded in the fabric of culture and social lives of people, it becomes a problem many times.

Alcohol use also has macro-economic implications in Nepal. Alcohol production contributes more than 50 per cent of total excise duty and more than 6 per cent share of national revenue. Even though there are a number of laws and acts to control and minimize use of alcohol, they are not effective and government does not tend to control and stop producing alcohol.  Despite the crux of alcohol market in the national revenue, it has macro-economic implication in the long run. Excessive use of alcohol
reduces the longevity of human populations-increasing morbidity leading to increase in the health cost on the one hand. On the other hand, it reduces the working hours which results in a reduction of per capita income and overall economic growth.

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