By Kenson McCloud
Traditional leaders in Chikwawa have commended Breakthrough Action for initiating the establishment of child protection committees and intensifying awareness campaigns which they say have improved reporting mechanisms on forced and child marriages in the district.
The traditional leaders said this recently when Breakthrough Action engaged chiefs under Senior Chief Ngabu.
Interview with Timveni, Senior Group Nyambiro, representing Senior Chief Ngabu, said the child protection committees have assisted in following up on cases and reporting to relevant stakeholders including the district social welfare office.
According to Nyambiro, before the establishment of the committees, the chiefs were facing numerous challenges as there was no coordination among stakeholders.
However, Nyambiro said the traditional leaders are still facing resistance from some parents and children who have resorted to concealing ages of minors to marry them off under the pretense that they are adults.
In his remarks, a representative for Chikwawa District Social Welfare Office, Sangwani Nyirongo, said they are working hand-in-hand with chiefs to ensure that cases of child marriages are drastically reduced in the district.
On her part, community mobilization technical specialist for Breakthrough Action, Irene Banda, bemoaned that lack of birth records in some villages as a major setback as some community members are taking advantage of the situation.
Banda said there is need for all chiefs to have records which will make it easier to verify children’s ages.
Banda further said Breakthrough Action is committed to continue working with community structures to ensure that traditional leaders are engaged at all levels to help in curbing child marriages in Chikwawa.
Breakthrough Action seeks to end Child, Early and Forced Marriages and is being implemented in Chikwawa and Machinga districts.