Analysis: KABAMBA MWANSA
ABUSE of alcohol among young people is alarming in our country.This is what prompted individuals and the corporate world to lobby for a bill that restricts alcohol consumption.
The American Psychiatric Association defines alcohol abuse, in essence as continuous maladaptive or hazardous use of alcohol; such hazards can be physical, social, or psychological.
The term ‘problem drinking’ refers generally to several types of alcohol disorders, alcohol problems, or heavy drinking (John Mullahy and Jody L. Sindelar).
There is a relationship between problem drinking and unemployment among youths.
Alcohol has been associated with a long list of physical, psychological and cognitive impairments that can occur both in the short and the long run.
All these factors could reduce productivity and reliability of a working youth or one aspiring for work. Lost productivity is considered to be the largest component of the costs of problem drinking (John Mullahy and Jody L. Sindelar).
When speaking of unemployment according to E.F. Schumacher, it means the non-utilisation or gross under-utilisation of available labour.
For instance, given a productivity scale that starts from zero, the crucial question for any poor society like Zambia is how to move up on this scale.
When considering productivity in any society it is not sufficient to only take account of those who are employed or self-employed and leave out those who are unemployed and whose productivity is zero.
Then, productivity is primarily a question of getting more work done.
For this, there are four essential conditions. First, there must be motivation for the youths to be productive; second, there must be some know-how on productivity; third, there must be deliberate work opportunities; and fourth, avenues for marketing productivity.
The essential elements of productivity will partly help us as a country in alleviating alcohol abuse among the young people and youths for they will transform their energies from abusing alcohol to productivity.
Therefore, as we find means and ways of mitigating alcohol abuse among the young people, there is a need to begin promoting productivity among the young people rather than looking for formal employment.
Human beings are naturally creative, active and self-motivated.
As a result, the socio-environment should be conducive for the aforementioned characters to manifest, and have a practical impact in mitigating alcohol abuse by making the young and the youths become productive.
For youths to be productive there is need for a conducive environment. Some youths, even after having graduated from colleges or university say they cannot work because they lack ‘capital’? This is failure to realise that capital is a product of human work.
The lack of capital can explain a low level of productivity, but it cannot explain a lack of work opportunities.
Each human has capacities and endowments that must be fully exploited. Capacities are different but each one has.
However such potential can only flourish in an environment where conditions are favourable.
As we mitigate alcohol abuse among young people, we need to create an enabling environment that will make them actualise self-progression and transformation in view of enhancing productivity.
It is also important to create enough jobs for youths because that is one way to eliminate anti-productive reflexes.
There is also need for mind-set change among youths to look out for other opportunities rather than wholly depending on formal employment. This is much more so because of scarce job opportunities.
An unemployed youth is a desperate person who is likely to engage in unproductive behaviour.
It is therefore important to make job creation a primary objective of economic planning in curbing alcohol abuse among youths.
If we can employ only a limited number of people in wage labour, then let us give priority to young people who are likely to be more productive.
Engaging youths in the most productive way will enhance economic growth for our developing nation, and consequently decrease alcohol abuse.
When we begin to promote productivity against alcohol abuse and unemployment, we will simply be gauging the successes of the youths based on how much they are actualising their self-progression, becoming relevant and productive to themselves and to the development of our nation.
Therefore, if we can recover the sense that it is the most natural thing for every person born in this world to use his hand in a productive way and that it is not beyond the wit of man to make this possible, then I think the problem of unemployment will disappear and we shall soon be asking ourselves how we can get all the work done. In which case, we would have managed by emphasising on work opportunity creation, self-progression/transformation, commitment to productivity vis-à-vis unemployment and alcohol abuse.
The author is a pastoral agent.
Analysis: KABAMBA MWANSA