Fish in exchange for sex triggers Aids toll –Malawi Kalondolondo

There is increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS among fishermen on Malawi’s Lake Chilwa with revelations that  fishermen and business women are exchanging sex for fish .

The development is also causing marriage break-ups around the villages close to the lake.

This revelation was made during a Kalondolondo Programme Workshop under the theme: ‘Report on the Assessment of Antiretroviral and HIV Testing Services in Machinga”, which was organized by Youthnet and Counseling (YONECO) in conjunction with Plan Malawi, Action Aid and CONGOMA.

Giving her presentation, a participant at Kalondolondo workshop identified as Agness

The Kalondolondo  programme, formerly known as the community based monitoring project, is an eight-year programme with an object to provide a platform through which communities and civil society can participate in the national budget process by giving feedback on how communities perceive the delivery of services in health, education, water and agriculture sector.

During the workshop it was revealed that  fishing in Lake Chilwa has become a conduit for business women from cities like Blantyre, Zomba  to seduce fishermen in return for either cash or fisheries resources.

Soniya Mussa, from Chiwanga Village, T/A Mposa told the gathering that people have constructed sharks on top of shrubs inside the lake where rest houses have been opened.

“It is a sad development and we wish government official should come to see themselves.”

At Lake Chilwa, fishermen use a pool of boats and go into fishing areas where they spend between one and three months away from their wives and families. They take away with them firewood, flour, water and many other necessary items.

Concurring with Mussa was Menard Musumani, who told the gathering in anger that this behaviour should be checked at because married women from the area are complaining.

The problem is not only happening around Lake Chilwa. In the lake shore areas of Lake Malawi, Lake Malombe and Lake Chiuta many fishermen are involved in giving free fish to women in exchange for sex.

Malawi is of the countries in the region with the highest HIV/AIDs prevalence.

According to Clement Mwazumbumba, Lake Chilwa’s District AIDS Coordinator, many of the men don’t know their HIV status because access to clinics is limited due to the very nature of the fishing industry.

In his presentation assessment, Mac Ben Mkandawire from Yoneco said that the issue of HIV and AIDS is still a problem in Machinga district especially due to shortages y of ARVs at the health centres.

For instance, Mkandawire emphasized that clients had to share one bottle of 30 tablets while others go home without receiving the drugs.

“In some instances clients are told to contribute money for transport to collect drugs from the nearest health centre. For instance, at Nayuchi drugs are collected from Namanja health centre,” said Mkandawire.

Programme manager for the Kalondolondo Project, Jephter Mwanza from Plan Malawi said : “This is what Kalondolondo is all about; here Yoneco was able to determine the levels of satisfaction of men, women, boys and girls living with HIV with HTC and ART services. You have even heard it yourself from the people themselves on how they struggle to access ARVs in health centres.”

The Kalondolondo Programme is being implemented by a consortium of Plan Malawi, Action aid and the Council for Non Governmental Organizations in Malawi with funding from Ukaid and Plan UK.

Plan Malawi delegates at the Kalondolondo. Photos by Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times
Villager Musumani giving account on risky behaviour of fishermen
Giving her presentation, a participant at Kalondolondo workshop identified as Agness

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