Oxfam Malawi has challenged communities and different stakeholders to protect girls from child marriages and teen pregnancies amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oxfam Regional Director for Southern Africa, Nellie Nyang’wa, made the request at Joho Primary School in the Traditional Authority Nsanama in Machinga district on Wednesday, August 13, when she presided over a donation ceremony of Covid-19 response package worth 46 million Kwacha.
Nyang’wa said it is sad to note that about 461 girls in the district are pregnant while 329 have gotten married since schools were closed in March.
According to Nyang’wa there is need to take extra care in protecting the girls to avoid more disasters of teen pregnancies and child marriages that will arise from the pandemic.
Nyang’wa said: “COVID-19 is here and will stay longer so the only way to deal with it is to follow preventive measures and in addition we are very worried about what is happening to the girls following the closure of schools considering that the number of those who have either fell pregnant or get married has surpassed 800.”
She further said 2,500 households will receive once-off cash money of K15, 000 each.
In her remarks, District Commissioner for Machinga, Rosemary Nawasha, commended Oxfam for the donation saying it will help in easing the financial burden that most families are going through due to the pandemic.
On the issue of child marriages, Nawasha said they are holding meetings with different stakeholders including chiefs to make sure that all the child marriages are ended and that the girls who are pregnant are properly supported and are able to go back to school when schools reopen.
And one of the beneficiaries of the social cash transfer, which was part of the donation, Edna James from Group Village Headman Woji, traditional authority Nsanama, commended Oxfam for the gesture saying it will assist in taking care of her children.
Items donated include water buckets, tablets of soap and menstrual hygiene items for girls.