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Query: Experiences of effective community response to the issue of alcohol

Dear All,

I am working with several communities in India. One issue which seems to affect the communities is excessive consumption of alcohol. This has a detrimental effect not only on their health but also social and economic aspects of their lives.

I would like to learn from experiences of communities who have been effectively able to deal with this issue and reduce alcohol consumption. What has worked? What were the results?

Thanks and regards,


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Hi Rituu, I myself have no experience on this issue but I do remember the visit we paid at the village during the Global Learning Festival in India in 2012. We visited a village where SAAP were working and I seem to remember that the women in that village were able to generate some transformative effect. But not sure it was on alcohol or just domestic violence. 

Thank you Jan!

Response from Mr Fisher, traditional leader from Botswana. He is a SALT facilitator.

Botswana experience

We have been fairly successful in reducing consumption of alcohol through SALT process in Botswana. Our villages have dashboards where they share their dreams, hopes and concerns, self assessment and action points. Where alcohol was an issue, villagers made action plans like bars would close between 12 pm to 8 pm. The community members took their dreams and action points to the authorities like police or people who issue bar license. Community members were able to convince the authorities. We see that funding for churches and schools in the villages has increased and for bars has reduced in the areas  where we are working.

SALT visit stimulates women to take immediate action

I am a social worker and was to arrange for SALT visit in the village of Bachauli, Khanpur Block on the banks of river.  Villagers are primarily engaged in fishing, working in bricklins and as bonded labourers in agriculture. Men primarily work in bricklins where they earn Rs 500-700 per day (10-15 USD).

I was arranging for the meeting and could not participate in the SALT discussion. But afterwards I overheard the women talking about it. Suddenly, a young 20-year old man came to the women.  He instigated the women by saying that the NGO was trying to use them for action research. The women retorted that the meeting was useful to them. They had realized that gambling and alcohol was creating a havoc in their life as men squander most of their income between Rs 5000-10,000 on these activities. Men do not spend money for the family on food, on education of their children.  The argument increased and one woman slapped this young man saying that he had just come back after gambling. What would you know what is happening in the village.

 Women also started discussing the bad effects oof ‘ Tadi’ or palm tree, alcohol made in homes in the village. The secretion from this is a psychotic substance and men in the village consume it especially now when the alcohol has been banned in the state.  Men do not want to cut this tree. Women said that the tree is dangerous not only for its use as a drug but also because the palm trees attract lightning. In the past in a similar incident the tree had fallen and killed one child in the village.

This was surprising for me. We have been to this community for many times but no one had openly shared about alcohol and gambling in the village. It was for the first time that this came out in public. The community had never shared before but now after this one and half hour meeting from 3 pm to 4:30 pm women had started speaking about it and even started taking action.  Also even more surprising was that when the man criticized our organization, I did not have to give justification. It was the community woman who justified our presence and the importance of the SALT meeting and the man had to leave the place. In most cases I have had to defend my organization.

I got a glimpse that these women are capable of tackling their own issues.

Experience from PNG

Comment by Laurence Gilliot on August 22, 2010 at 5:25pmDelete Comment

Hi Lyndon,

Great that you did two SALT visits! Did you go as a team with other friends? Did you do an After-Action-Review?
What did you learn from the communities you visited that enriched your life? Did you tell the people you visited about what you learned from them?

I can totally understand that you identified weaknesses. In some places it is a challenge to see strengths. My biggest challenge was in Papua New Guinea when I was talking with young boys. They were sharing about their alcohol and drug behaviour and how they wanted to change. They even talked about gang rapes etc. It is difficult in that situation to see strengths. But still our team really did its very best. We listen and tried to understand the boys, imagining that we grew up in their context. I probably would have done the same. We also shared about our own vulnerability. We tried to connect as equal human beings with them.
It was the first time ever that someone had told these boys that they had strengths and that they could do anything they wanted to change their situation. That they had strengths and that they were good people.

They started talking action by organising coffee nights. They mobilised their whole community.

Sometimes it seems not logical to look for strengths when we see weaknesses. It seems less efficient to let people discover their own strengths when we can so easily tell them all the things we see they are not doing well. But we believe that it is worth letting people discover their own truth, their own strengths and their own areas to improve. The little detour is worth it...

Is this also your experience?


Sanghamitra shares her experience from Mauritius on a SALT visit to a rehab centre for women struggling with alcohol issues.

Experience from Sri lanka

Tuktuk drivers in Mattakkuliya give free rides to VCT centre.

PNG experience

See this video at 2:25 - people are addressing their vulnerabilities

Hi Rituu,

As we discussed too, I have experience to work on alcohol and opium  issues in Rajasthan and Gujarat. We have adopted two different approach in Gujarat we worked with Woman Groups and did comprehensive cash flow analysis with woman and other community members. Gradually enter in to family level and many male members were goen through camps and get out from this.

in other case in Rajasthan we have work with Village Development Committee and again use cash flow analysis for communicating our massage strongly.

We got very good success.




“That day at Suva Sahana Committee meeting, we understood  health includes lives without stress and good social relationships. We also understood that there is a wide variety of factors that determine our status of wellbeing. We identified alcohol as the main impediment to our ‘village wellbeing’.
We wanted first to find out the magnitude of our problem. So we walked from house to house, surveying for alcohol users. Of 71 houses, 61 had at least one person who regularly consumed alcohol. When we talked to the family members to get the details, we also tried to enlighten them about the identified issue. Finally our community understood that the reason given for violent behavior as alcohol use is just an alibi and should not really frighten us. The biggest myth we had - that alcohol only affects the drinker was also changed. We realized that the money wasted on alcohol deprived our families of a better living standard and destroyed the dreams of our children. After so many years of suffering, we refused to be frightened.” - Karuna, 45 year old woman from Palagala , Sri Lanka


Greetings! Thanks a lot Kalana. What were the actions taken by the community to reduced alcohol consumption?


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