October 26, 2021

Traditional leaders bemoan drug and alcohol stimulating child marriages

Chiefs in Traditional Authority Chimutu, Lilongwe have called for concentrated efforts from Government as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) in fighting against drug and alcohol abuse saying it is one aspect that is stimulating child marriages in their communities.

Despite Government and NGO’s interventions in ending child marriages in the country, Chiefs in Traditional Authority Chimutu have called for more collaborative efforts from government and other stakeholders to rally in fighting against drug and alcohol abuse saying it is influencing children to marry early.

Apart from poverty, lack of role models, unemployment and gule wamkulu among others, excessive use of drugs and alcohol substance abuse has been one of the major factors that is leading young people in Traditional Chimutu to sway into child marriages.

Nelson Zakeyo ..”There are a number of factors hindering interventions against control of drug and alcohol substance…Pic courtesy of Drug fight Malawi

In an interview, Group Village Headwoman Simion of TA Chimutu expressed worry that youths are engaging in shocking manners such as sexual activities under the influence of drug and alcohol substance which pressurizes them to go into early marriages.

“We want Government, and other well wishers, to come in with other interventions that would deal with drug and alcohol. Young people are exposing strange behaviours that are leading them to early marriages.”

“We need joint efforts that would refrain them from alcohol and drug abuse so that we can rescue them from early marriages,” Simion explained.

Drug fight Malawi Executive Director, Nelson Baziwelo Zakeyu, narrates that it is a worrisome development as Drug fight Malawi has been championing the control of alcohol and substance abuse since its inception in 2006, as not much transformation has been done. He said there are a number of factors hindering interventions against control of drug and alcohol stating that control seems not to be one of government priorities.

“Government has been very inactive as far as drug abuse control is concerned. The absence of National Drug Control Policy in the country has continued to make it difficult in lining our drug control intervention with plans of the government,” Zakeyu narrates.

Zakeyu captured facilitating to women in Ntchisi on linkage of gender based violence on alcohol and substance abuse

According to Zakeyu, 60% of young people in the country consume alcohol and substance saying the situation is worrisome. He said youths as young as 12 years old have a habit of consuming alcohol and drugs, describing the situation as gravely not destroying their future only but the country’s development as well.

“Despite that we have been working hard to deter young people from alcohol and drug use. Not much has been transformed due to limited finances that would have enabled us to reach out to as many youths as possible. Secondly, lack of government intervention on the area, most people are complaining of increase of youths who have unruly behaviour like stealing, violence and causing many problems due to alcohol and drug use but that seems not affecting government policy makers,” Zakeyu stated.

Network for Youth Development (NFYD) has been one of the NGO’s that is working in championing Girls Get Equal project (zotheka) towards social means that is helping reduce child marriages in the area.

By Esnath Kalawe

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