UNBS, local waragi

Uganda National Bureau of Standards -UNBS has over the years impounded thousands of litres of the local waragi

GULU –UGANDA: “Kadeng Ci Kadeng’’, is an Acholi word loosely translated as “If Swelling Then Swelling’’. This is a common phrase used to describe an illegal toxic alcoholic drink. It has different descriptions such as “Kadeng Ci Deng’’ in the West Acholi districts and “Guu’’East Acholi. “Guu’’ loosely means “Rock’’, something attributed to the drink`s high concentration.

The drink is not certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS. It contains a highly concentrated chemical formulation which a dealer mixes into a 10-liter container from which up to 120-liters of waragi is produced. This is the equivalent of six jerry cans of 20 liters within 30 minutes, yet without any due process of fermentation and distillation.

Consumption of “Kadeng Ci Kadeng’’ came to prominence during the lockdown period because of its cheap price and ease of accessibility to the population. Throughout the period, the illicit and uncontrolled consumption of the drink has raised health concerns and public outcry in Acholi.

Some district local governments have already banned, while others are in the process of banning the sale, distribution, and consumption of the waragi citing health concerns.

Unconfirmed reports have it that dozens of people from the different Acholi districts have died, others developed mental problems while some men have also suffered erectile dysfunction in relation to consuming alcohol.

In Amuru district, Apollo Okello, the Secretary of Education and Health says that with the closure of all learning institutions, hundreds of school-going children are indulging in the consumption of the “Kadeng Ci Deng’’. Okello disclosed that at least three related death cases in the district have been attributed to the consumption of Kadeng Ci Deng.

In Kitgum district, William Komakech, the Kitgum Resident District Commissioner described the damage caused by drinking the illicit alcohol as great citing that it has brought a lot of domestic conflicts, led to death, and lowered household production posing food insecurity.
“Many families have in one way or the other lost a member as a result of the domestic brawl which comes following the consumption of this bad, crude waragi. Two, you find many households in Kitgum do not have enough food to sustain them for the whole year because the production has reduced to half an acre.” Komakech explains.

“And that half an acre, you would imagine a family of six, seven or more members, wants clothing, medical care, and school fees from it.”
Komakech adds that the alcohol dealers continue to sneak into the district but he says, that the security community has met and resolved to come out with an ordinance on its production, sale, and consumption.

“We resolve that we should take the position of the district council which earlier on came up with an ordinance to stop the waragi consumption. We also found it important to embark on sensitization of the locals first.” Komakech revealed.

In Gulu, Christopher Opiyo Ateker the district chairperson says the consumption of ‘’Kadeng Ci Deng’’ is not only leading to poverty and food insecurity but also caused health problems. He explained that the vice is rising to prominence again due to loopholes in the district alcohol ordinance which was passed a few years ago and that they are yet to draft another ordinance.

“If it is not checked, in ten or twenty years, this generation will vanish because of the consumption of this Kaden Ci Deng. Honorable Balington is already working on this petition, he is going to petition the council so that we can we how we can regulate the sale and consumption of this Kaden Ci Deng.” Say Ateke.

Other districts like Amuru report that at least four people have died in what is believed to be the consumption of Kadeng Ci Deng.
Meanwhile, Omoro district leaders recently banned the sale and consumption of Kadeng Ci Deng following a report of two death cases of its consumers. The district council also passed a resolution that anyone found dealing in the drink within the district should be arrested and charged 500,000 shillings.

Isaac Odong, a Clinical Officer in Gulu City says that the process involved in the production of Kadeng Ci Deng is questionable and possess a great risk to public health.

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