Responsible Trading for a Safer Tomorrow

Meet the organisation that's aiming to reduce alcohol harm in South Africa

The Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (aware.org) is committed to redressing the scourge of alcohol harm in South Africa. Aware.org partnered with provincial liquor authorities to launch their Responsible Trade Facilitation (RTF) programme, which promotes responsible trading across the Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

This initiative forms part of aware.org’s community formalisation programme with the provincial liquor authorities who play an instrumental role in the success of this programme alongside its on-the-ground partner, Sekika. More than 650 identified taverners are mentored by Sekika to ensure compliance with their licence conditions while moving through an incentive system that sees physical improvements to their establishments. 

This programmatic approach aims to:

As part of the programme, taverns will be incentivised for running a functional establishment and in doing so benefit from the rewards.
  • Educate consumers, parents and children about the dangers of alcohol use and misuse and the risks related to underage and binge drinking
  • Provide training, support and mentorship to traders in understanding how to comply with liquor laws and how to operate within these laws, and to better serve the communities in which they operate
  • Leverage the programme’s results to build better relationships with key stakeholders

The organisation was established by the liquor industry in 1989, and its main members consist of liquor producers such as SAB, Heineken, Distell, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Vinpro and Salba, with associate members being liquor distributors and retailers, both small and large.

Aware.org’s mandate is to drive and realise a reduction in alcohol harm and as such is the industry’s collective commitment to turning the tide on the high levels of alcohol abuse. Aware.org aims to build a culture of responsible alcohol consumption in South Africa.

Together with its strategic stakeholders, aware.org remains mindful of their significant role in building ongoing, permanent relationships with communities to create a positive impact. Ensuring that stakeholders have access to the right opportunities, information and tools to make the right choices is crucial to help create communities for change and formally recognise the sector’s contribution to sustainable socio-economic development.

As part of the programme, taverns will be incentivised for running a functional establishment and in doing so benefit from the rewards.  The four-tier programme offers incentives such as tavern signage, fire extinguishers, ablution facilities, CCTV cameras and first aid kits.

“We want to build a culture of responsible alcohol consumption in South Africa. This shared vision makes it possible to address the fight against alcohol use and misuse. This requires a collective effort, and to achieve this 'change' we need the support of the community at large, liquor traders and parents and/or caregivers of minors. Communities will be empowered through learning and engagement, resulting in change within societal interactions and the setting of clear boundaries,” says Ingrid Louw, CEO of aware.org.

As part of the programme’s educational aspect, aware.org designed a checkers board tablecloth where patrons can interact with the messaging while learning about the harmful effects of alcohol. The message carried through the game reflects the aim of the RTF programme, which includes not serving alcohol to minors or pregnant women, no firearms allowed on premises, to respect the communities the tavern operates in, etc.

The outcome of this initiative is to realise a balance between compliance and trade that sees evidence-based outcomes of harm reduction, and the realisation of strategic partnerships are the lifeblood of our harm reduction mandate.

“The programme is designed to change behaviours and attitudes in order to promote responsible trading and encourage responsible drinking. We educate the tavern owner on not allowing underage children onto their premises, not to sell alcohol to pregnant women, to know when someone has had enough and to reserve the right to serve customers more alcohol,” concluded Louw.