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Drug Fight Malawi: Taking Action Against Substance Abuse

September 14, 2023

Drug Fight Malawi (DFM) is a project that works with young people, particularly secondary school pupils, in Malawi. It has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education which has provided them with credentials that enable DFM to interact with school children throughout the country. They aim to reach 60 schools each year.

Nelson Zakeyu is the founder of Drug Fight Malawi. We are inspired by the work he is doing to raise awareness of drug use. He recently took time out of his busy schedule to tell us what motivated him to start the organisation and what he hopes it can achieve. We’re delighted to share Nelson’s first-person account here, and we wish him and DFM success.


“Over the past few years, my research has shown that children in Malawi’s rural areas were just as likely to be attracted to drug use as those in the urban areas. From my conversations with many young people, I have found that neither the illegality of drug use nor the threat of mental health problems arising from drug use appears to be a strong enough deterrent. Peer pressure – particularly as children got into secondary schools – appears to have a stronger ‘pull’ factor than any potential deterrent effect of family/community disapproval or the financial and emotional costs that drug use incurs. Given the virality of substance (drugs, alcohol, tobacco) use on the streets, at school, on television and on the internet, it has become almost impossible to shield young people from substance abuse. My research shows that some found  60% of school-going teenagers in Malawi indulge in alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Worryingly, the starting point of abuse is the place where they should supposedly be protected from drugs: schools.”

How DFM is Taking Action

“Our primary focus in founding the NGO Drug Fight Malawi is to give children and young people accurate information that de-glamourises drug use and helps them make informed decisions. We also share evidenced-based information with teachers to enable them engage with their students on the issue, as reported here.

Despite limited resources, Drug Fight Malawi has so far:

  • Initiated and spearheaded the development of Malawi’s National Alcohol Policy
  • Conducted a project on the effects of smoking and its connection with COVID 19.
  • Organised a self-help drug use prevention project (2022) during which we reached out to 10,000 students
Facilitator stands before a group of public secondary school students

Drug Fight Malawi sensitizing students 

We recognize that DFM’s objectives and impact will be further amplified if we get aid and support. Therefore, we are reaching out to seek support and form collaborations. Now a member of the World Federation Against Drugs, DFM is taking on the goal of reducing drug use and addiction in Malawi. Find out more here and contribute to advance DFM’s objectives by donating via this link.”

Nelson Zakeya is on X (formerly Twitter.) Contact him at @NZakeyu

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