Faith groups tackles Malawi population growth

Malawi faith groups are leading a campaign to tackle population growth in the country. Malawi’s population is expected to jump from the current to triple as much by the year 2040 if most women continue to bear about six children in their life time.

The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) through the Catholic Health Commission (CHC), the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), and Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM) including the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) have partnered the government through the sanctioned Health Population Project (HPP).

Last year the groups organised a three day initiative, called the Population Weekend, which is a component of the family planning community mobilization of the Safe Motherhood Initiative.

“We undertake the Population Weekend with the view of accommodating all the prayer days for Malawi’s 97% of religious believers. Saturdayis for the Seventh Day Adventists, Friday for the Muslims and Sunday for the rest of the Christians,” explained Laston Mteka of HPP.

Christian and Muslim leaders at s sensitisation meeting the Population Weekend at T/A Mwase in Kasungu district

Christian and Muslim leaders at s sensitisation meeting the Population Weekend at T/A Mwase in Kasungu district

“Malawi’s population is made up of 97% religious followers and the faith groups are a vital tool in delivering population and development related messages to the masses.”

This year, the faith groups, employing Biblical and Quaran verses and teachings, will be holding the Population Weekend events in Kasungu in Traditional Authorities Kaomba, Santhe, Lukwa, and Mwase from 17th to 19th January and one in T/A Chitukula of Lilongwe from 31st January to 2nd February.

During these weekends, congregants in mosques and churches will learn about family planning as well as key strategy for managing population growth in Malawi.

“Religious leaders will talk about population and family planning in their teachings. The weekends will engage individuals and communities to generate suggestions for addressing the problem of rapid population growth; demonstrate the commitment of religious leaders to support population management efforts; and promote collaboration among religious bodies on issues of common concern,” said HPP.

The efforts are complimenting government efforts to meet women’s current need for family planning by increasing demand for and access to contraception, and build on the momentum of World Population Day 2013.

Religious leaders are taking action to sensitize their congregations to family planning, an important solution to the challenges of rapid population growth. With 97% of Malawians belonging to a religious body or group, religious leaders have a critical role to play in addressing these issues.

 

“God does not specify the number of children a man should have but encourages man to have the number of children he can afford to look after,” said Howard Kasiya, Program Manager at EAM during last year’s Population Weekend at Free Methodist Church in Mangochi district.

Bishop Gilford Matonga, an Executive Board member of the MCC adds that populating the world is not the responsibility of one man.

“When God talked about populating like sand to fill the earth, He did not mean one man would do that. God wants us to be responsible for the number of children we have. I cannot imagine an image of God that is hungry, naked, and lacks knowledge (un-educated). We need to consider our being stewards of God’s creation when we raise families and have children.

“We should have a number of children only that we can be able to be responsible for as God wishes. This is the same Malawi, the same land and it is not enlarging. Resources now are becoming limited and we need to think critically about such issues and undertake to glorify God by responsible bearing of children,” he said.

The initiative is supported by the USAID-funded HPP in collaboration with the University of North Carolina (UNC) through support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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