Stakeholders in Mandera met on Friday to seek ways to end drugs and substance abuse among residents especially the youth.
The one-day consultative meeting brought together security officials and the county executive. The county assembly committee of public service wants to operationalize the county anti-narcotic and traffic units.
Among those in attendance were county commissioner Onesmus Kyatha, county secretary Abdinur Maalim and Yussuf Dido, the chief officer for devolved units and enforcement.
During the meeting, it was agreed that only concerted efforts between the county and national government agencies will curb the drugs problem.
Kyatha said the fight against drugs and substance must be sustained as they were a big contributor to most of the ills bedeviling society.
Dido said the county has a growing population and urbanization has attracted may people to slums, leading to an increase in the use of drugs.
“We have a ballooning youth population, which could be slowly but surely wasting away due to consumption of drugs and other harmful substances. We have to act now to arrest the situation before it is too late,” Dido said.
“The dependency levels on the drugs coupled with its addictive nature have seen the youth turn to crime to get money for more. This condition is dangerous considering that the dreaded Al Shabaab can take advantage of it to recruit the users into the militia for a fee to keep the supply.”
Bhang, codeine and miraa are among the most abused drugs in the area.
Prescription drugs like codeine are sold over the counter in Mandera town by chemists and non-chemist shops.
Forty enforcement officers will undergo intensive training under experienced instructors from the Nairobi City County Inspectorate Training College. The officers will be directly engaged with handling traffic and curbing drugs.
Proximity to the border with Somalia and Ethiopia, large scale urbanization and increased affluence have been cited as some of the factors leading to increased drug and substance abuse.