Reducing alcohol and drug abuse among the youths of chibolya township-A case study of participatory communication strategies by serenity harm reduction program Zambia(SHARPZ)
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This report aims to assess the communication and participatory strategies used by Serenity Harm Reduction Program Zambia (SHARPZ) to educate the youthsof Chibolya township about the potential harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs. The media and other institutions havehighlighted the alarming levels of youths abusing alcohol and other drugs in this community. A total of 198 respondents participated in this survey and all reside or directly influence activities of this community. The data was collected through questionnaires, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, document analysis and field observation. In addition, data was also collected using scholarly books, journals and magazines. The data collected through questionnaires was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The research findings indicate that the community lacks sufficient communication structures and support from other organizations/institutions. SHARPZ is the only organization that has been identified tohave effectively managed to sensitise the youth using participatory communication methodologies that have proved to be effective. The study revealed that SHARPZ engages the youth in awareness activities by using participatory communication strategies such as drama, flash mob theatre, role-play and mass media through theprint, television, and radio. There is a magazine targeting the youth which is regularly printed, the last was titled ‘Tilemekezeumoyo Alcohol and You’ (2012). The magazine ispublished with the assistance of other cooperating partners. From the study, findings indicate that SHARZ has managed to disseminate information to the youth’s despite the hostility experienced due to the presence of illegal drugs. Some of the participatory strategies SHARPZ has used are engaging opinion leaders, the youth’s and carrying out activities in established formal places such as schools. The other important aspect is that information disseminated by SHARPZ to the youth’s has been considered as appropriate and is not a threat to any group/individual in thecommunity.Therefore,SHARPZ is slowly becoming a household name as it continues to disseminate appropriate information to the youth of Chibolya township. From the research findings, it was recommended that there should be increased participation by the youths and leaders, community leaders. The youth and cooperating partners within Chibolya township should also involve the youths in designing communication messages, use of ex alcohol abusers as role models and establishment of an information desk.