SAAPA Botswana and its allies in the endeavor to reduce alcohol related harm are deeply disappointed by the recent, ill-informed decision by Botswana Football League (BFL) to now allow alcohol sales at football matches. This decision comes at a time when the country has undersigned the Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022 – 2030 to accelerate evidence-based policy, legislation and programmes to reduce alcohol attributable harm.
According to the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health of 2018, Botswana is among the highest drinking countries in the world with adult per capita alcohol consumption (APC) of 8.4 litres of pure alcohol per annum which is over the average APC of Africa at 6.3 litres. About a third of Botswana’s population drinks alcohol with about 60% being heavy episodic drinkers j people drinking alcohol at harmful levels.
Research shows that there is a correlation between prevalence of harmful alcohol consumption and cases of alcohol related harms. These include but not limited to: car crush related deaths & injuries, GBV, teenage pregnancy compounding the resource scarcity for the already overwhelmed health sector. The report further shows that in every 100 000 people in Botswana 90 die from liver cirrhosis, 197 road traffic injuries and 90 cancer attribute to alcohol.
Botswana is already having a challenge of very limited youth friendly (particularly underage children) recreational centers. This move will make soccer stadiums less friendly to the non drinking populace and increase children’s exposure to alcohol advertisi ng. I nternational eviden ce shows that alcohol advertising influences early experimentation and the amount of alcohol consumed in any one session leading to binge drinking.
Allowing the advertising, sale and consumption of alcohol at soccer stadium s during games will indiscriminately expose the vulnerable groups of our society to the drinking lifestyle and normalize it thus recruiting the youth and women into drinking.
After a span of years leading Africa particularly the Southern region as a champion of progressive alcohol policies and legislation, Botswana has been making a number of changes which undo its
policy progress and reputation. This announcement by BFL forms part of a series of regressive actions that the government and its development partners have embarked on. Such include the
2018 relaxation of alcohol trading hours, the reduction of alcohol levy, lifting of the ban on alcohol marketing and sponsorship in sports, partnership between the Min istry of Health and KBL and the most recent being UNDP partnership with KBL. With the current noted actions, it is evident that those entrusted with the responsibility to make policy have totally lost bala nce between promotion of profit and protecting the health of the society they serve.
SAAPA Botswana acknowledges the challenges of mobilizing resources and sponsorship that organizations perusing endeavors towards human development experience. We took tobacco out of sports. We can take alcohol out of sports as well and still strive. We therefore call for:
1. The Minister of Sport, Gender Youth and Culture to reinstate the ban on sports sponsorship, marketing and consumption of alcohol at sporting activities.
2. BFL to retract its decision to contribute to the country’s drinking problems by exploring other progressive means of mobilizing resources and attracting spectators to attend and support games.
3. As Botswana is undergoing the review of the Liquor Act this will be the most opportu ne
time for the Ministry of Trade to show its commitment to sustainable and responsible trade and put on the revised law clauses that will limit harmful availability of alcohol
4. BFL should add its voice to the call for development of Corporate Social Responsibility law that will help to mobilize and create a framework for funding of charitable work and sports in the country without the marketing value for industries.
5. Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture should partner with other ministries and
whole of government to tackle alcohol harm, build consensus around policy and implement evidence-based programming.
SAAPA Botswana Chairperson
In-Country Liaison Person email@example.com
Aadielah Maker Diedericks
Secretary General aadielah.maker-diedericks@ saapa.africa