What is PACTA

The management of PACTA consists of a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Gulu (who founded PACTA in 2004), and a Ugandan Senior Psychiatrist Clinical Officer with a Master’s Degree in public health, with over ten years of experience in counselling and treating mental health. The organization shall have a transparent budget and keep strict accountability on funds received.

Needs that PACTA Addresses

Statement of needs that PACTA undertakes to address

From 1986 to 2008 the Northern region of Uganda was affected by the atrocities of the anti-government Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). During the conflict, family and societal structures were altered and up to 30,000 children were abducted by rebels and used as soldiers and sex slaves (1). Approximately two million people were forcibly displaced by the government into overcrowded camps resulting in 1000 excess deaths per week in 2005 (2). The majority of these deaths were caused by curable diseases and malnutrition (1, 2, 3, 4). As an illustration of the grim conditions; Kitgum district was found to have a life expectancy of 29.1 years in 2002-2005 (5) compared to the national life expectancy of 50.4 years (6). The president of Uganda gained power in 1986 and the LRA, which claims to fight on behalf of the Acholi people of the Northern region but targeted Acholi civilians, has existed ever since.

Peace talks failed in 2005 and in October that year, upon request from the Ugandan government, the ICC indicted five rebel commanders of the LRA over the atrocities committed, despite religious leaders from the North arguing that it would undermine the amnesty that allowed rebels and abductees to return (3). The LRA have had camps in Congo and Sudan, and have now moved as far as the Central African Republic. The majority of people left the IDP camps in 2009 and moved back to their villages to start their daily lives again (3, 4).

The 2009/10 Uganda national household survey estimated that by region, the North (which is geographically the largest region) had 46.2% poor people, the West 21.8% and the Central 10.7%. The proportion of households that got one meal per day is 20.1% in the North, compared to 5.8% in the West and 7.3% in the Central region. In the North 68.9% live in huts as opposed to 1.8% in West and 2.4% in Central (7).

In IDP camps rates of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) were as high as 74.3%, and rates of depression as high as 67% (8) and treatment for this or for alcoholism is not generally available. The fact that a participant in this study narrated that his mother sometimes threatens to throw her three affected children in the river indicates the depth of hopelessness and depression.

It has been documented by other studies that men in Northern Uganda were left feeling disempowered by the protracted violent conflict and the loss of cattle and land that was their source of wealth (1, 4, 9). Coupled with the financial responsibility of caring for many orphans after the war, this led to feelings of hopelessness and anger that were also found in this study, and a high rate of suicides.

The situation of peoples’ displacement to the Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps has caused frustration, redundancy and dependency on relief supplies which has resulted into excessive alcohol and other drugs consumption and their many related problems. The resultant loss of cultural values is undermining the traditional ways of coping and community coherence. This phenomenon led to a low level of engagement in productive activities, hence low family income.

Excessive consumption of alcohol and psychoactive drugs are major causes of poverty, domestic violence, divorce, child abuse, inefficiency, job loss, road accidents, and school drop-outs, reduced man power, immorality and increased level of criminal activities such as theft, suicide, rape, defilement and assaults.

Alcohol can cause diseases such as liver cirrhosis, bleeding ulcers, pancreatitis, kidney failure, dementia, and gastro-intestinal cancer. The costs of these diseases are high to the family and the society as a whole.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Uganda (NIAAA) indicates that people with alcohol use disorders are more likely than others to contract HIV due to risky sexual behaviour; similarly people with HIV are more likely to abuse alcohol at some point in their life. The use of opiates in the early stage of HIV infection can lead to the development of AZT-resistant virus.

The Uganda AIDS Commission notes: “As we fight HIV/AIDS, it is important that we also fight those factors that increase the risks of acquiring the disease. Drug abuse and prostitution are very big in this, because people who are drunk easily catch HIV because of irresponsible behaviours like unprotected sex” (the consequences of impaired judgments). "Therefore alcohol and other drug abuse treatment can be considered primary HIV prevention as well (NIAAA).

According to the latest CNN survey report in March 2013, Uganda is now no. 8 in the World and Number 1 in Africa in alcohol consumption (10).

The Global Status on Alcohol and Health reported in 2005 that 19.47 litres of pure alcohol was consumed per capita by drinkers annually in Uganda (10). In 2014, this number had gone up to 23.7 litres of pure alcohol (11).

In East Africa, Uganda lies number one in this sad statistic:

Country Litres per capita
Uganda 23.7
Burundi 22.0
Rwanda 22.0
Kenya 18.9
Tanzania 18.4

In November 2009, 37 people died and over 50 became blind in Gulu Municipal alone, due to methanol poisoning after taking the national spirit ‘Waragi’. A large proportion of admissions to the mental units are associated with alcohol and other drug abuse.

In a study on the Ugandan police force, 19.2% of the respondents reported the experience of symptoms as alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, 26% of the respondents reported that they experienced psychosocial problems related to alcohol use (12).

The only other rehabilitation centres are: National Care Centre and Serenity in Kampala, which is too expensive for the average Ugandan to afford (€20 per day for 3 months – 90 days). Apart from Serenity and National Care Centre, there has to the best of our knowledge, been no other not-for-profit organization in Uganda who solely focuses on helping people deal with their addiction to alcohol or drugs.

PACTA Projects Description

PACTA was founded in 2004 by Fr. Samuel Mwaka Okidi. The implementation of PACTA project covers the eight districts of Acholi sub region, Northern Uganda namely; Gulu, Kitgum, Amuru, Pader, Lamwo, Agago, Nwoya and Omoro.

PACTA (Program for Awareness, Counseling and Treatment of Alcoholism) is a non-profit oriented Community Based Organization (CBO). It was founded in June 2004 and registered with Gulu District Community Development Office on 2nd October 2006 with registration number CDR/850.

PACTA was established with the mission to alleviate pain, suffering and helplessness caused by alcoholism and other substance abuse. This mission is carried out by our members, the majority of whom are recovered alcoholics. We target individuals, families and communities; through awareness, family sessions, treatment and rehabilitation, in order to foster meaningful living and reduce poverty in the war torn Acholi sub-region. PACTA deals with all categories of people irrespective of age, gender, religion, political or any other affiliation.

Key relevant strategic networks and/or alliances of which the organization forms part: Archdiocese of Gulu Pastoral & Health Departments, Caritas Gulu Archdiocese, Justice and Peace Department of Gulu, Comboni Samaritans of Gulu, Social Communications Department - Gulu Archdiocese, St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Serenity Alcoholism Treatment Centre in Kampala, Uganda Prisons Services Department, VIVO (Voice of the Voiceless) International, the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (Mental Health Unit), TASO Gulu and National Consortium of Alcohol, and Drug Abuse (Uganda).

As for public accountability, we follow our constitution Article 7.5 which recommends that the Audited Accounts and balance sheet be signed by the auditors and are presented to the donors and to the members at the Annual General Meetings.

Target Groups

Individuals affected by alcohol abuse irrespective of age, sex, religion or any other affiliation. In Gulu Municipality, alcohol is consumed by many people, including children. There is need for direct intervention to save them from developing the disease of alcoholism. Those already addicted should be helped to recover and be sober, healthy and productive.

Families affected by alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a family disease that develops from abuse of alcohol. All the family members are affected in one way or another. Past experience has called for more involvement of families. They should be supported to know their contribution as parents and relatives of the clients. In a special way, women affected by substance abuse shall be empowered.

The community affected by substance abuse. The community should be mobilized and sensitized to participate in the struggle against alcohol abuse since this problem affects community development.

Works done to date (2005 to 2018)

PACTA has been concentrating mainly on sensitization and training of community-based facilitators, using behavior change and the value of life approaches, including radio talk shows. With assistance from some donors, the following work was done:

  • PACTA office was established and some office equipment acquired.
  • One addiction counselor trained
  • Two training of trainers (TOT) workshops conducted for 60 and 51 facilitators in Gulu Municipal and Kitgum Town respectively in the year 2006
  • 179 Community Based Facilitators (CBF) were trained between 2006 and 2008
  • 38 radio talk shows done in 2006 and since 2014 we have been running 2 programs per week
  • 804 participants sensitized on the importance of behavior change in relation to HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.
  • Computer training for recovering addicts was set up in 2006 and in 2009 upgraded to PACTA ICT Centre for youth skills training towards self-reliance. The studio is involved in the production of Music, Video and Films
  • Running of weekly training and AA meetings in Gulu Central Government Prisons since 2011.
  • Establishment and running Sobriety clubs in ten (10) Schools:
    1. Negri College
    2. Christ the King PTC
    3. Pope John Paul II College
    4. St. Joseph’s Technical School
    5. Gulu Army SS
    6. Gulu High School
    7. Sam Baker S.S.
    8. Lukome S.S - all in Gulu District
    9. Pope Paul VI Anaka (Nwoya District) and
    10. St. Mary’s College Lacor (Amuru District)
  • We have so far organized and conducted five treatment camps (2013 – 2016) for a total of 180 clients within Gulu Municipal, Amuru District, Agago District, Lamwo District, Pader District and Nwoya District.
  • PACTA supports and sponsors GULUHOOD FILM HOME. A group of youth that educate the community on the danger of alcohol, drugs and other evils in the society.
  • PACTA also sponsors a youth group known as Acholi Family Films Gulu
  • Networking with the relevant government and non-governmental organizations in the fields of labor, gender, health, education and social developments.
  • Opening the first alcohol and drugs Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Gulu in July 2018.

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Plot 1 Burcoro Road, Wiaworanga, Patuda Parish, Layibi Division, Gulu Municipality
P.O. Box 177, Gulu – Uganda
+256 (0) 771 909730
+256 (0) 393 206 811