Kaliati concerned over increased early pregnancies and marriages in Mchinji

children-by-choice-not-chance1Mchinji, November 14, 2014: Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and disabilities Patricia Kaliati has expressed concern over increased rate of early pregnancies and marriages in Mchinji district, which is negatively affecting girls’ education.

Speaking Thursday, when she together with officials from KFW-Germany visited beneficiaries of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) at Khombe Village, T/A Zulu in Mchinji district, Kaliati said she was deeply saddened that although the SCTP programme is greatly improving the livelihood of vulnerable people such as child, elderly headed families and the chronically ill, girl children dropped out of school due to pregnancies.

“I am saddened that while government is stepping up its efforts of assisting poor families through programmes such as SCTP some guardians force girls to marry at an early age and they drop out of school which aggravates poverty in such families further,” she said.

She said government will soon put a law which will punish people especially guardians and parents who marry out girls, saying this would ensure that girls are kept in school.

“I am advising chiefs in  Mchinji to come up with their own by-laws aimed at punishing such parents, this is the only way early marriages can be stopped,” she said, adding that Chiefs in Salima have already put in place such laws which require offenders to pay a fine or a goat when found guilty.

Speaking on the Social Cash Transfer Programme Kaliati said she was pleased that the programme has improved the lives of 10,000 households in Mchinji alone.

Kaliati then thanked the Germany government through KFW for funding the programme saying the institution should consider funding more districts to ensure that more people benefit from the programme.

In his remarks after visiting the beneficiaries KFW-Germany First Vice president responsible for Southern Africa region Dr Thomas Duve said he was pleased that the SCTP programme is greatly improving the lives of poor people in the country.

“We are proud to partner with the Malawi government in easing problems poor families face in the country,” said Duve.

He said KFW Germany would consider funding more households in two more districts after negotiating with the Malawi government.

According to Desk Officer for Mchinji Social Cash Transfer Programme Jim Wotchi, households receive a monthly allowance of K3, 000. And the cash transferred to beneficiary households include a school bonus for primary and secondary school children.  Target households are chronically ill people, people with physical disabilities and child /women headed families.

The programme is currently reaching 51,361 households in Balaka, Chitipa, Likoma, Machinga, Mangochi, Mchinji, Phalombe, Salima and Thyolo districts.