In the small commune of Romeang Thkol in Cambodia, there is a big problem with alcohol-related issues. The community, which is home to over 7000 people, has been plagued by violent incidents caused by excessive drinking. In 2022, there were three shocking cases where arguments between drinkers turned into severe violence, with people getting hurt by machetes. Additionally, there were several cases of domestic violence connected to alcohol abuse. The statistics are alarming, showing that 45% of the population in the commune abuses alcohol and 10% are struggling with severe addiction.
Despite the negative effects alcohol has had in the commune, there are still advertisements promoting its consumption, including one on a billboard right in front of the commune office. Mr. Loek Vannak, the Community Chief, attended a meeting organized by People Center for Development and Peace (PDP) in partnership with IOGT-NTO Movement, where he learned about the harmful impact of alcohol on health, society, culture, and the economy. He realized that alcohol consumption was the root cause of insecurity in his commune.
Taking action, the commune started drafting a plan called the Deika on alcohol control. This comprehensive plan aims to address the issue of alcohol abuse. It has been consulted with community members in August and will be finalized by commune councillors in before the end of 2023 for adoption.
One crucial aspect of the Deika is the intention to ban all alcohol advertisements in the commune. If adopted, Romeang Thkol would be the first commune in Cambodia to take this bold step in creating a safer and healthier community where the harmful influence of alcohol is minimized, and the well-being of its residents becomes the top priority. By working together and implementing the Deika, the commune hopes to usher in a new era of progress.