Alcohol use, working conditions, job benefits, and the legacy of the "Dop" system among farm workers in the Western Cape Province, South Africa: hope despite high levels of risky drinking

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Jul 21;11(7):7406-24. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110707406.


This study describes alcohol consumption in five Western Cape Province communities. Cross-sectional data from a community household sample (n = 591) describe the alcohol use patterns of adult males and females, and farm workers vs. others. Data reveal that men were more likely to be current drinkers than women, 75.1% vs. 65.8% (p = 0.033); farm laborers were more likely to be current drinkers than individuals in other occupations 83.1% vs. 66.8% (p = 0.004). Group, binge drinking on weekends was the norm; men were more likely to be binge drinkers in the past week than women 59.8% vs. 48.8% (p = 0.086); farm workers were more likely to binge than others 75.0% vs. 47.5% (p < 0.001). The legacy of "Dop" contributes to current risky drinking behaviors. Farm owners or managers were interviewed on 11 farms, they described working conditions on their farms and how the legacy of "Dop" is reflected in the current use of alcohol by their workers. "Dop" was given to farm workers in the past on six of the 11 farms, but was discontinued for different reasons. There is zero tolerance for coming to work intoxicated; farm owners encourage responsible use of alcohol and assist farm workers in getting help for alcohol problems when necessary. The farm owners report some positive initiatives, were ahead of the movement to provide meaningful wages, and provide other important amenities. Further research is needed to assess whether progressive practices on some farms will reduce harmful alcohol use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Drinking Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • South Africa
  • Work
  • Young Adult