These two pilot projects are meant to be the first of a series of research projects to be carried out in Malawi in the field of alcohol, drugs and development, with the ultimate goal of establishing a National Monitoring System for alcohol and drug problems in Malawi. This type of monitoring system is strongly desired by Malawian authorities and recommended and encouraged by WHO.
Project 1: Explore use and abuse of substances in a selected urban and rural location in Malawi.
- What kinds of substances are commonly used in Malawi?
- Who uses substances?
- Why do people use substances?
- Status of different substances in society
There are two main substances of use and abuse in the study sites, namely alcohol and chamba. The results indicate that alcohol constitutes a bigger and more widespread problem than chamba. The substances used seem to be closely linked to the income of the user, but there is no clear connection between poverty and using substances. No matter how poor people are, they use substances, but the type of substances they choose depends on the money they have available at the time. Substances are used more often by men than women, and the reasons for using substances include increased sexual desire, gains in strength and intelligence, peace of mind, escape from problems, getting a clearer head, getting courage, etc.
This study calls for more research into the extent to which substances are used, where and by whom (who/which groups are vulnerable to the use and abuse of substances in Malawi), as well as studies looking at the relationship between substance use and poverty and substance use and HIV/AIDS. The study also calls for more attention to be given to the problems connected with alcohol use in Malawi, and not just the use and abuse of chamba. This should also be reflected in future research and future government prioritisation.
Project 2: Explore how substance use has an affect on gender based violence in Malawi.
- How does men's use of substances put women at risk of being violated physically, mentally and sexually?
The results show that there are three main types of abuse as experienced by the women in this study, namely; economic abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Much of the abuse takes place when the offender has drunk alcohol and/ or smoked chamba. There is a general lack of respect and acknowledgement of women both by men and by women themselves.
This study calls for more research on sexual abuse, alcohol abuse and how this impacts on the spread of HIV/ AIDS in Malawi. Furthermore, the study calls for more attention to the problems connected to alcohol and drug use in Malawi, and its negative affect on wives, families, communities, Malawian society and the country as a whole.
FORUT and NGO Gender Coordination Network has, through visits and investigations in Malawi, disclosed a general lack of information and research concerning alcohol and drug use and abuse in Malawi. The two pilot projects have been developed as a result of meetings and correspondence between FORUT and SINTEF Health Research.
Collaborating partners are:
- Centre for Social Research, University of Malawi
- Gender Coordination Network, Malawi
- FORUT, Norway
- SINTEF Health Research, Norway
The project is funded by FORUT - Campaign for Development and Solidarity
Timeframe: 2007-2008 (March)