Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Western Cape Liquor Act in Khayelitsha
Alcohol is one of the key risk factors for the exceptionally high levels of interpersonal violence in South Africa's Western Cape Province. It is also an important contributor to disease. Reducing access to alcohol is one of several strategies recommended for lowering alcohol-related harm; it has been identified as a suitable intervention in poorer areas where sales are largely unregulated. The Western Cape Liquor Act was implemented in Khayelitsha, the province's largest township, with the aim of reducing access to alcohol by limiting trading times for both on- and off-license premises. Several other interventions underway may also affect alcohol availability, including localized policing interventions around closing times, the clustering of alcohol outlets, a safe tavern program, and ongoing engagement with affected communities to address high-risk crime zones. However, no comprehensive strategy to evaluate the impact of these measures is currently in place. This study will examine the intervention in Khayelitsha in order to assess whether physical interventions (such as the relocation of outlets), social (including legislation), or economic (which are being implemented more broadly and not directed specifically at alcohol) are effective in reducing access to alcohol. It will also assess which combination of interventions is most effective, and whether reduced access leads to lower alcohol-related harm in the township. Using various data sources to measure the direct and indirect impacts of alcohol access reduction, as well as the extent of various interventions, the study will document critical success factors and obstacles to putting interventions in place. The research findings may motivate other South African provinces to invest in similar strategies.