Children as young as four years old are abusing drugs, the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse(NACADA) has indicated.
In a report released Wednesday, Nacada painted a worrying picture noting that at least 17% of pupils in primary schools are abusing drugs.
Data from the survey shows 7.2% were currently using prescription drugs; 3.2% were using tobacco, 2.6% were using alcohol, 2.3% miraa/muguka, 1.2% were using inhalants and 1.2% heroin.
The report shows 20.2 percent of primary school pupils have used at least one drug in their lifetime.
The minors were mostly likely to use drugs during school holidays, on their way home from school, during weekends and during inter-school competitions.
Quizzed about the sources of drugs, the sampled pupils admitted buying them from kiosks or shops(28.6 percent) and bars(25.7 percent) near schools. Also identified as peddlers were school workers at 13.6 percent, friends (19.3 percent), and other students (13.7 per cent).
The report attributes the rampant use of drugs in primary schools to class repetition and decline in academic performance.
Pupils from families where one or both parents/guardians use drugs or substances of abuse were more likely to use the same, the survey found. Other risk factors mentioned in the report include weak parental guidance and enforcement of laws, family conflicts, exposure to advertisements of drugs, negative role modelling by teachers, and existences of bars, shops or kiosks near schools.
Nacada is thus recommending enforcement of guidelines on establishment of business premises and bars near schools; ban on sale of cigarettes in single sticks and sensitization of parents on the risks of keeping drugs at home or being accompanied by children to drug consumption facilities.
The survey dubbed Status of Drugs and Substance Abuse among Primary School Pupils in Kenya, 2019 involved 3,307 pupils from 177 primary schools spread across 25 countries. It was conducted in conjunction with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).
NACADA Chair Julius Githinji said the authority will partner with the Ministry of Education and other institutions to undertake a similar survey in institutions of higher learning.