Lack of information on sexual reproductive health (SRH) among the youth is said to be contributing to the increase of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Karonga, Kachila Youth Initiative says.
The organization’s Executive Director, William Ngwira, said youths in the district fail to access information on SRH services because they do not know where to access it, hence the increase in child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Ngwira said this when he briefed the District Executive Committee (DEC) about the project on Youth Empowerment, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, that his organization is currently implementing in areas of village headmen Mwahimba and Mwakifwamba.
“We must empower young people, especially girls, with information on SRH if we are to reverse the trend of teenage pregnancies. One way is by imparting them with knowledge on the subject,” he said.
According to Ngwira, the project was inspired by a community mapping exercise at Lulindo Primary School in the two areas (Mwahimba and Mwakifwamba villages) where the data showed that between September 2012 to March 2013, 23 girls dropped out of school due to early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“Through this project, we hope to increase awareness to promote youth friendly SRH services to all youths aged between 10-24 years and enhance collaboration between youths, community leaders and parents, as we feel openness is vital in seeking information on SRH,” Ngwira said.
According to Karonga District Education Manager, Scotch Kondowe, lack of openness to their children amongst the parents on issues of SRH denies the youths information on the matter.
He attributed this to cultural beliefs where talking about sexual reproductive health to children is still taboo amongst most communities in the district.
Kondowe observed that because of this gap, children also struggle to open up to their parents and ask questions on what they learn in Life Skills at school.
The Youth Empowerment and Sexual Reproductive Health Project, which will run for 14 months, is funded by Tilitonse Fund to the tune of MK14 million.