Girls as young as 11 are becoming mothers in Dwambazi, northern part of Nkhotakota, due to lack of responsible parenting, the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) has learnt.
The shocking revelations come when the countries largest ecumenical body. MCC, rolled out the Churches Role on Population and Development project in the area, dubbed Church-Act.
Monitoring and Evaluation officer for Nkhotakota district council Peter Mwandira said there was growing concern that more children were opting for early marriages than education.
“We have had cases where 11 year olds have become pregnant and given birth. We have a growing scenario where very young chidren are getting married.
“This is worrisome because education suffers, their bodies and minds are not yet ready for marriage challenges. And more importantly that this contributes to rapid population growth against limited public resources ” he said.
Dwambazi is a predominantly a fishing community.
“These were new enrolment numbers save for children still at home, and those moving to the next class. The ministry of education has to absorb that pressure – text and copy books, teachers, classrooms, as the national budget juggles between allocating more financial resources to either education or the health sector, or agriculture, etc.”
Bishop Dr. Gilford Matonga, the MCC General Secretary said the church was deeply concerned with the poor living standards of God’s people in many parts of Malawi.
“Population is a crosscutting issue. It concerns food security, education, health, agriculture, energy and the environment. Rapid population translates pressure on government, the private sector, the church, and even the family to provide for their people.
“Our Council is concerned that the way our church leaders translate or use the Bible has helped to increase population. When God said multiply like the sand He did not mean one family or person should do it alone. The church must preach within context and not lead people to destruction,” he emphasized.
Church-Act project coordinator, M’theto Lungu said the intervention main objective is to church lwaders and communities to umderstand the linkages between the church, population and development, and planning of family.
“As you may know, religious leaders are more respected by 97% of the Malawian population. Using church leaders therefore offers a wider, far reaching and trusted platform and voice. Rapid population growth is a serious issue,” he said.
“Families that are big face problems where schools fees, clothes, food, energy and other day needs are rising in costs. Coupled with that, population growth brings conflicts on landhilding where rven brothers and sisters fight for land and subsequent encroachments and protected areas such as forests, scramble for water, poor health in women and children, economic pressure on families.
“As the council we are saying we can’t sit back ‘as our people may die for lack of information or knowledge’. Hence we came up with Church-Act.”
The project is supported by Health Policy Plus with support from USAID.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :