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Zimbabwe Youth and their Disturbing Methods to Catch a High

Since October 2018, the Zimbabwean economy has been on a free-fall characterised by high inflation and low investor confidence, leading to hyperinflation and high levels of unemployment as the local currency plummeted in value. Data is not readily available in Zimbabwe but sources from the country’s ministry of higher and tertiary education told Al Jazeera that more than 25,000 students graduate annually from the country’s universities and other institutions of higher learning. But unemployment is also prevalent and the pool of the jobless swells every year. Experts say all of this has led youths to find coping mechanisms – including drugs. Several drug users told Al Jazeera that sodium polyacrylate or waterlock is found in new and used diapers, as well as stain removers, bleach products and some detergents. It is the absorbent for blood on sanitary pads and urine on diapers and dissolves once boiled. In street lingo, it is also known as “muto we ma Pampers” meaning “juice of Pampers” in the Shona language and referencing Pampers, a popular brand. While the southern African country has no national database to track drug users, anecdotal evidence points to many users among the population – more than half of whom are below the age of 30. Zimbabwe currently has no national policy meant for drug abuse but is instead operating with a National Drugs Master Plan 2020.