Many people see alcohol as something positive, but most also see the downsides in the form of abuse, violence and health problems. It is perhaps in the richer parts of the world that it is clearest that there are problems linked to alcohol - but it is also a growing problem in many low- and middle-income countries.
Some of the biggest public health problems in the world are caused, or exacerbated, by alcohol. Alcohol creates economic problems, both for individuals and societies, and is an important factor to take into account when working with poverty reduction.
Alcohol limits people's opportunities for personal development and independence. Alcohol causes people to become less involved in politics. People have poorer conditions for education, poorer health and increased social problems. High alcohol consumption leads to economic vulnerability and social vulnerability in both rich and poor countries. But when margins are small and social safety nets are weak, people are hit harder.
Lower alcohol consumption does not solve all developmental problems, but many problems become easier to solve.
If there is significant alcohol use in a village or community, it affects the economy, health, levels of violence, gender equality and the situation of the children. It is often enough to ask questions to the inhabitants of the community to get a first understanding of how big the problem is.
Aid actors tell of when the women in a microloan project did not want to make more money, because the man soaked them up and the violence in the home increased. They talk about the gender equality project which did not achieve any results - until the opening hours in the bar were limited. And about how the productivity of the tea plantations increased when the workers sobered up.
Regardless of country and level of development, development projects become more efficient and more sustainable if they pay attention to and work against problems related to alcohol.
More and more aid actors are realizing that alcohol affects the results of efforts and projects. In June 2015, Svenska took over The United Nations a congressional decision to include alcohol in its development agenda, and umbrella organizations ForumCiv and Swedish Mission Council has included the alcohol issue in its external and project analyzes. When we have had workshops together with RFSL and exchanges with Orphans we have seen that the alcohol situation plays a role almost regardless of target group and country.
In practice, this may mean, for example, that all projects must analyze whether and how alcohol affects whether the business achieves its goals, fulfills its rights and is socially sustainable. With a basic understanding of how alcohol hinders development, you can, through small or large changes, get better results and sustainability.
Our projects are located in East Africa, Southeast Asia, the Balkans and Sri Lanka. Here we provide support for local organizations' important work and help them to develop. In total, we work today with about 30 organizations in 14 countries.
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