Senior Chief Nankumba of Mangochi has called for more collaborative efforts between government and its stakeholders to ensure that the district does not slide back in its resolve to end child marriages.
Nankumba observed that the district is registering a steady decline in cases of child and early marriages following the introduction of the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project in the district.
World Vision Malawi (WVM), with funding from Global Fund through the Action Aid Malawi, is implementing AGYW project in 163 schools under Traditional Authorities (T/As) Chimwala, Chowe, Nankumba, Mponda, Jalasi, Chilipa and Bwananyambi in Mangochi.
The aim of the project is to provide girls, young women and boys aged 15 to 24 with opportunities so that they improve their livelihood, while preventing and mitigating HIV/Aids.
And speaking on the sidelines of the project assessment exercise at Mbwadzulu Football Ground, Nankumba disclosed that over 1, 000 girls and young women have been withdrawn from marriages since the rollout of the project in 2018 to date.
“There is a good progress towards ending child marriages in the areas where this project is being implemented. However, our plea is that government and stakeholders should not relax so that we do not trip backwards in our efforts to end the vice,” said the chief.
Nankumba said he has since established a special fund targeting girls and young women who have been withdrawn from marriages and their parents.
“The idea is to ensure that girls and young women who have been withdrawn from marriages do not return to the marriages because of lack of financial support. However, we are limited and we therefore appeal for support from government and its development partners,” he said.
One of the girls withdrawn from early marriage and chairperson of Mbwadzulu Youth Club in Traditional Authority (T/A) Nankumba, Annie Kuyendakwina, said the project has enabled them to gain self-reliance through establishment of various businesses.
Kuyendakwina said the club is raising goats and producing vegetables, which they sell to boarding schools in the district.
“Through proceeds from vegetable sales, this club is supporting two girls who are in secondary schools. However, our major challenges are lack of markets for our vegetables and inadequate capital to triple our profits so that more girls and young women are benefitting from our intervention,” she said.
World Vision Malawi Chief of Party Alexander Chikonga said the project was designed to benefit 163 in school and 200 out-of-school girl clubs established to promote girls health issues through dissemination of sex and sexuality related education messages to 80, 622 in-school and 33, 999 out-of-school girls in the selected areas.
On the economic empowerment of young women, Chikonga said the organization has facilitated the establishment of 329 savings groups for out-school and trained 707 out-of-school girls in savings groups.
“So far, 8, 063 out-of-school girls are participating in savings groups and 86 of the sampled savings groups (1,690 members) have accumulated savings of K23, 387,810. We have also trained 231 out-of-school girls trained in vocational skills, including embroidery, baking and cooking while 174 male champions have been oriented in women’s rights and GBV,” he discloses.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :