Gicumbi residents and local authorities have committed to join efforts to fight persistent drug abuse in the region.
This was during a public discussion that brought together citizens and local authorities, held in Mulindi cell, Kaniga Sector that share borders with Uganda where most drugs are trafficked from.
The discussion was organised by Panos Great Lakes Institute (PGLI) in partnership with Rwanda Community Radios Network, seeking to give a platform to citizens to promote democracy and good governance as well as using the media as a link between the citizens and authorities, according to Vicky Byicaza, programme manager for PGLI.
The discussions run under the theme, “The role of local government in fighting drugs in Gicumbi District”.
The Northern Province is considered a gateway for drugs that enter Rwanda.
The drugs include mayirungi, chief waragi, and illicit gin, commonly known as Kanyanga.
The impact of drug abuse in the region include conflicts and violence in homes, school dropouts, crimes, according to Charlotte Benihirwe, Gicumbi District vice mayor in charge of social affairs.
“The issue is so disturbing because we are witnessing intoxication, conflicts, poverty, and many cases of crimes in this area are drug related. That’s why we have to keep fighting until drug abuse is no more. We consider creating anti-drug clubs in all villages. These clubs already exist in schools and we want to strengthen them and also create others at village level to ensure all citizens are involved in the fight,” she said.
Although drug abuse is still high, Benihirwe explained that there has been a decrease.
“We have been fighting relentlessly and the quantity of drugs we seize has decreased. We recently destroyed 240 liters of Kanyanga.” she said.
She also called upon residents to work with authorities by ensuring they share timely information about the vice.
The drugs are brought from Uganda by traffickers and dealers locally known as Abarembetsi.
Residents said drug abuse is declining and stressed their commitment to end it in the area.
“Drug abuse in this area is decreasing. Most of us have abandoned dealing and usage of drugs. When you take drugs, you can’t work for the wellbeing of your family,” said Anuarite Mukandutiye, a resident of Gicumbi.
“We are working with our leaders by providing information about traffickers and dealers to end drug abuse,” she added.
Jean Claude Nizeyimana, another resident said he used to take drugs but has since stopped, he advises the youth to desist from drugs because they are harmful to one’s health and wellbeing.