Features of alcohol advertisements across five urban slums in Kampala, Uganda: pilot testing a container-based approach

Monica H. Swahn, Georgia State University
Jane B. Palmier, Kennesaw State University
Alicia May, University of Georgia
Dajun Dai, Georgia State University


Background: Despite the high prevalence of alcohol use and marketing in many settings across sub-Saharan Africa, few studies have systematically sought to assess alcohol marketing exposure, particularly in vulnerable areas such as urban slums where alcohol is often highly prevalent but where educational programs and alcohol prevention messages are scarce. Objective: To pilot test the development and implementation of environmental scans of alcohol advertisements in five urban slums across different areas of Kampala, Uganda: Bwaise, Kamwokya, Makindye, Nakulabye, and Nateete. Methods: Each of the five scans was conducted in geographical circles, within a 500-m radius of a Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) drop-in Center using a container-based approach. Using a Garmin GPS with photo capabilities and a tablet for data entry, teams of at least two trained researchers walked the main roads within the target area and gathered information about each alcohol advertisement including its location, type, size, and placement and other characteristics. Data with the GPS coordinates, photos and descriptive details of the adverts were merged for analyses. Results: A total of 235 alcohol adverts were found across all five data collection sites reflecting 32 different brands. The majority of the adverts (85.8%) were smaller and medium sizes placed by restaurants and bars, stores and kiosks, and liquor stores. The most frequently noted types of alcohol in the adverts were spirits (50.6%) and beer (30.6%). Recommendations: The pilot test of the methodology we developed indicated that implementation was feasible, although challenges were noted. Since monitoring alcohol marketing is key for addressing underage alcohol use and harm, the advantages and disadvantages of the approach we developed are discussed. Future research needs to strengthen and simplify strategies for monitoring alcohol marketing in low-resource settings such as urban slums which have unique features that need to be considered. Meanwhile, the findings may yield valuable information for stakeholders and to guide intervention developments and alcohol marketing policy to protect youth.