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WUSC urges stakeholders to use community radio

Nkhotakota, July 23: World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Country Director Jacob Mapemba has urged various stakeholders in Nkhotakota to use Nkhotakota Community Radio in message dissemination following a study that has shown that the radio is making impact in its programming. Mapemba made the remarks during stakeholders meeting where WUSC volunteer Katlin Jones presented findings of a study she conducted to measure the impact of Nkhotakota Community Radio in its programming and message dissemination. Presenting her findings, Jones said overall the radio is making a positive impact in its programming as individuals and groups have improved their lives after utilization of messages they heard on the radio. WUSC country director therefore encouraged the stakeholders to use the radio to reach out to their targeted audience as the study has shown that the radio is making strides in male involvement, reducing stigma and discrimination among those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS as well as encouraging women to join support groups, amongst others. “I would like to assure the stakeholders that the community radio is one of the best approaches of reaching out to targeted group. We have taken note of the challenges and recommendations both from the study and stakeholders,” Mapemba said. Jones said overall the radio has positive impact and it is a ‘must’ for Nkhotakota as a tool for development. “Many people in the district listen to it and the various comments from various listeners were inspiring and they show how great the impact is. The listeners said the radio should continue its programming as it is making a difference,” said Jones. Jones further said the strength of the radio is that listeners are applying the information they heard on the radio in their lives and the radio is incorporating education messages and promotional jingles in entertainment programs. “The challenge noted is lack of cell phones for feedback and some parts of the district do not pick signal for the radio thereby excluding people from accessing valuable information. “I recommend that they should keep on educating alongside entertainment programs and the radio should also promote listening clubs to reduce exclusion to the parts of the district which do not pick the signal of the radio,” Jones said. Environment District Officer Hellen Nyirenda who represented district commissioner at the event said the study is a good feedback to the district council and stakeholders who rely on the radio for message dissemination. Nkhotakota Community Radio Station started its operations 10 years ago.


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Fostering girls’ education to avert teenage pregnancies

Mangochi, July 23, 2014: Itwas one of those rare chilly days of June 26 this year in a district whose temperatures usually get as high as 40˚C or at worst 42˚C amidst sweltering heat. But on this particular day both girls and boys from different education zones in the lakeshore district of Mangochi and those from Mpilipili in the area of Traditional Authority Makanjira in particular had every reason to brave the unusual biting cold weather to send a message home.  The message pasted in nearly all the placards these future leaders hoisted was loud and clear: “We need to have education first and everything else including marriage can come later.” This occasion was to mark the official launch of the reducing teenage pregnancies project which can hitherto be blamed as the single largest hurdle to girls’ education. The initiative is a brain – child of the Save the Children International. An emotional Loveness Ipanje, who once conceived at the age of 13 but returned to school stunned the gathering when she emphatically said, in her view, marriage can indeed wait and that school was everything that mattered. In her own words, Ipanje explicitly put it: “I have had an experience of the other life although it was premature but I think that (marriage) can wait for now while education cannot.” Ipanje, 24, a mother of two owes her return to the classroom to an active mother group instituted in the area by Makanjira Area Civil Protection Committee on reducing teenage pregnancies which encourages girls to work hard and remain in school until they achieve their set goals. The youthful mother now in Standard 7 told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that she aspires to become a nurse when she finishes her education. It was learnt during the launch that at least 60 teen mothers have enrolled in school, thanks to Save the Children which has mobilized mother groups to take advantage of the readmission policy. Random interviews Mana conducted indicated that most parents force their children into marriage in Makanjira in particular and Mangochi in general for the material benefits that may be sought after the ‘unholy’ matrimony. Reducing teenage pregnancies project is being bankrolled by the Norwegian Agency for Development and will be executed in a period of three years in six districts of Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Phalombe, Ntcheu and Mchinji. It aims at among other things ensuring an improved policy environment to adequately support young people’s rights. It also attempts to build strong partnerships between mothers groups, community structures and teachers to promote and sustain education of the girl child.   Save the Children is implementing another project – keeping girls in school – which attempts to enhance coordination and complement the activities of the reducing teenage pregnancies initiative. According to Save the Children Country Director, Mathews Pickard the project of reducing teenage pregnancies would be delivered through the provision of age and culturally acceptable information on sexual reproductive health rights practices and services. “Major focus will be on reducing girls’ school drop outs and increasing re – entry rates after delivery,” Pickard said. “The project targets to reach over 830, 000 adolescents Girls between ages of 10 – 19 years by the end of its implementation period.” It is anticipated, according to Pickard that at the end of the implementation of the project the learning and social environment in the project impact areas will be improved so that more girls stay in school and enhance their have accessibility to high quality sexual reproductive health services.  Pickard said in order to achieve such outcomes the initiative will work with teachers, youths and communities on adolescent sexual and reproductive health services through mother groups, teachers and other relevant structures. “The core function of such players shall be to provide psycho – social care support to young mothers and providing support with re-admission of the teen mothers to school,” Pickard emphasised. Ultimately, the project will also work with such partners like Community Based Distribution Agents, youth friendly clinics, the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi in a bid to reach out to the majority of deserving adolescents so that they have access to rightful services for their own betterment. According to the statistics which Mana sourced from Save the Children, 12 percent of girls drop out of school each year while 28 percent of girls drop out of school by the time they reach Standard 8. Several schools of thought, however, have argued that there were a number of contributing factors for the disturbing turn of events in girls’ education which range from poverty, school environment that is not conducive to girls at puberty or young mothers. Nonetheless, the reality on the ground is that at least 60 percent of the youth in the 18 – 24 age bracket report having had sexual relations by the time they reach 18 while 46 percent of the same group make up for all new HIV infections. It is against this backdrop, therefore, that the reducing teenage pregnancies intervention was crafted to salvage the youth especially girls who are caught in the high sexual activity cobweb which leads to teenage pregnancies, consequently dropping out of school. Pickard observed that although the country has a re-admission policy for girls who fall pregnant along the experience ladder, only less than 10 percent of young mothers are re – admitted in school. “This means that more than 90 percent of young girls that become pregnant fail to go back to school. When a girl becomes pregnant or has a child, her health, education, earning potential and her entire future may be in jeopardy,” the Save the Children country director lamented. Concurring with Pickard, South East Education Division (SEED) Manager McGregory Alufandika said Mangochi was one of the districts in the country whose girls’ literacy levels were not impressive. However, Alufandika said authorities in the education sector were working very hard to turn around the corner. He assured that with the cooperation and involvement of stakeholders it was possible to bring education standards to desirable levels. “The community just needs to be empowered to grasp the delicate and loose details on the importance of educating the girl child as opposed to rushing them into marriage whose effects are left bare for all of us to appreciate,” the SEED boss which comprises Zomba, Machinga, Balaka and Mangochi emphasised. Speaking in an interview with this reporter on the margins of the launch, Sub T/A Lulanga representing T/A Makanjira boasted that there were already some initiatives by the locals to promote girls education, disclosing that such attempts include asking indigenous young professionals to regularly interact with those in school as an inspiration.  For example, during the launch the traditional leaders paraded Maggie Milanzi, a teacher at one of the primary schools in the area and Kennedy Osman, who is currently reading law at Blantyre International University to motivate the youth in the area to also aim high in their education pursuit. Lulanga disclosed that presently plans were in the pipeline to mobilize construction materials for the erection of a girls hostel at Mpilipili CDSS so that secondary school girls attended classes without let or hindrance.   Arguably, huge disparities exist between the girl and the boy child in terms of retention and completion of primary and secondary education. Besides, the physical challenges posed by home and school environment for adolescent girls, lack of knowledge, information and access to SRH services impacts heavily on the girl child resulting into teenage pregnancies, early marriages and as a result, dropping out of school. In launching the campaign, Director of School Health and Nutrition, Charles Mazinga said government would like to engage traditional leaders to play their rightful roles in modifying some of the social/cultural norms which impede attainment of girls’ education. Mazinga said government has demonstrated a lot of political will by striving to ensure girls have equal access to education just like their male counterparts. He said government is committed to deliver quality education and promote brighter future for our girl child knowing fully that, ‘when you educate a girl child you educate a nation.’      “It is disheartening to note that while enrolment of both boys and girls may be 50:50 in junior primary classes, the development all of a sudden gets defeated at senior primary classes with more boys than girls in classes. Obviously, the trend has to be reversed,” Mazinga added. Mizinga further pointed out that Government is fully aware of the vicious cycle perpetuated by the prevailing gender disparities which hugely reflect on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Attainment of the MDGs set out by the international community fourteen years ago by the 189 heads of State in the United Nations General Assembly requires a greater focus on the adolescent phase of life – course of a girl child. Some of the MDGs which are eight in total outline that countries would promote gender equality and empower women, achieve universal primary education and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger among others. In this connection, Mizinga disclosed that government is promoting the public – private – partnership arrangement in a bid to enhance and consolidate some of the gains made in the education sector.        Mazinga’s assertion was corroborated by Mangochi District Education Manager, Sam Kalanda who thanked Save the Children for taking the project to Makanjira Primary Education Zone where he said only 13% of girls finish primary education implying that 87% drop out along the way. “At least from all the 100 girls who enroll at Standard 1 only 13 reach Standard 8,” Kalanda hinted. So, just as Save the Children is striving to see to it that every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation it is at the same time, the responsibility of all to ensure to play their rightful roles in protecting such girls like Loveness Ipanje to attain their goals in life.           


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About 15 houses set on fire in KU over land ownership dispute

Lilongwe, July 22, 2014: At least 15 families have been rendered homeless in Kasungu district after their houses were set ablaze by a woman who claims to be the legitimate owner of the land on which the houses were standing. The houses, which are in Masiku Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Lukwa in Kasungu, were set on fire on 12 July by 32 Policemen who were hired by a woman identified as Monica Makamu who claims the houses were constructed on land which is part of her deceased father’s estate. But the affected families, who also claim to have lost property and money as their houses were set ablaze, insist that the land belongs to them as it ceased to be an estate so many years ago. Samson Chimbalu, 46 years old, who is among those affected, said he has been living in that village his entire life and it is insane for someone to come and claim the land to be hers. “It was on a Saturday in the afternoon when we saw policemen in the company of Makamu arriving in our village and ordered us to remove all our belongings from our houses. They did not even give us ten minutes for that and before could get our stuff out the house was on fire,” said Chimbalu. Chimbalu claims to have lost his 18 bags of maize, 2 tobacco bails, K38, 000 for his church as he is a treasurer at church, K60, 000 personal money, beddings and kitchen utensils were also not recovered. The position of the villagers is supported by their TA Lukwa who also says indeed the land ceased to be an estate in 2004 as the owners of the land failed to apply for a fresh renewal to maintain the land as an estate. “According to our records and the documentation that is in our possession this land stopped to be an estate in 2004. We advised the owners then to reapply to maintain its status as an estate by they did not comply with our advice and after that we took it that they were no longer interested in the farm,” said TA Lukwa. Isabel Chakhame who is the Assistant Human Resource Officer  at the Kasungu District Commission faulted the action taken by Makamu as it did not follow procedures by bypassing the of office of the District Commissioner. “When issues of this nature arise the concerned person needs to liaise with the DC’s office for direction.  Even the police officers she hired were supposed to go there with our authorization. We believe the person is getting wrong advice from somewhere, the land in question did not belong to her father at all,” said Chakhame. Member of Parliament for the area Alex Meja consoled the affected families with a monetary donation to help keep the families on their feet but he has asked the government through the DC’s office to come the rescue of the villagers who are now destitute. “These people are now sleeping on their verandas so it is my appeal to the government to at least construct some tents for them to act as a temporal shelter for them. The situation they are living in at the moment is so unbearable,” said Meja.


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None reporting of HIV activities affecting progress in HIV fight

Salima, July 23, 2014: The HIV review meeting for Salima district council has exposed under reporting of HIV activities by stake holders, as only 30 percent of organizations in this sector reported their 2013-2014 activities. Speaking on Wednesday during the meeting District Aids Coordinator (DAC), Smith Mnenula bemoaned the trend on lack of interest by Community Based Organizations (CBO), Faith Based Organizations (FBO), government departments and Non Governmental organization in reporting to the council their HIV activities. Mnenula said that trend will heavily affect the planning and progress tracking in the sector. “All stake holders are required to report to the council using the Local Assembly HIV and Aids reporting Form (Laharf) , but only 30 percent of the stakeholders reported in this year, this affects the district report and indeed our planning and progress tracking,” said Mnenula. The DAC asked stake holders to jack-up and submit their reports in time so that the district should have readily available data “This data will help us to know if we are reaching our targets and making good progress,” he said. According to the report HIV prevalence rate remain around eight percent in the district. The report also indicated that in the past year over 34,143 condoms were distributed across the district. Mnenula said that the demand of female remained low as only 12 percent of the total condoms were distributed in the year ending. “The demand for female condoms is still very low because of many reasons, but we are going to continue to ensure that the condoms are available for free in all our out lets,” he said. On children the report said that between 2004 to June 2013, 4,475 babies exposed to HIV were given Neverapine Syrup. The DAC said that apart from underreporting the other challenges faced in the year ending is inaccurate reporting. “Lastly in the year ending over MK47 million was invested in the HIV and sector, this is a huge sum of money and if we plan and coordinate well we can make lots of progress,” said Mnenula.


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Mulanje Councillors Urged to Help in Promoting Girl’s Education

Mulanje, July 23, 2014: Mulanje District Education Office has urged councillors in the district to take part in the promotion of girl’s education. District Education Manager for Mulanje who is also chairperson for Community Development Committee, Gossom Mafuta said it is important for them to take a leading role in encouraging parents in their respective wards to encourage children of school going age to go to school saying education is very important as it is a catalyst for social and economic development. Mafuta was speaking during the opening of a two day briefing for councillors on their roles to promote girl’s education which has been organized by Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). He said councillors are the political amours of the district council urging them to incorporate girl’s education when making by-laws for the district so that the free and compulsory education being promoted by government is implemented. “It is very important to involve the councillors on issues of girl’s education because they are very influential in the communities and can easily convince parents to send their children to school having known how important education is especially for girls,” he said. The DEM also said the involvement of the councillors will make sure that they curb the malpractice of early marriages as it is one major challenge that girls in the district are facing that makes them drop out of school. He further said that Mulanje District has for the past three years registered tremendous progress in as far as girl child education is concerned which he attributed collaborated efforts by his office and other organizations like Camfed, Plan Malawi and World Vision working in the district. In his remarks, chairperson for Mulanje District Council, Manuel Bambala said the briefing will help them identify areas that need to be worked on in their areas in making sure that girl’s education is promoted at all levels. He also said as councillors, they will be in the forefront to make sure that identification of beneficiaries for bursaries is being done without bias and nepotism. According to statistics, school dropouts especially for girls in the district registered 14 percent in 2011, 12 percent in 2012 and three percent in 2013.


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WUSC urges stakeholders to use community radio

Fostering girls’ education to avert teenage pregnancies

About 15 houses set on fire in KU over land ownership dispute

None reporting of HIV activities affecting progress in HIV fight

Mulanje Councillors Urged to Help in Promoting Girl’s Education

National News

WUSC urges stakeholders to use community radio

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Nkhotakota, July 23: World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Country Director Jacob Mapemba has urged various stakeholders in Nkhotakota to use Nkho...

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Fostering girls’ education to avert teenage pregnancies

Fostering girls’ education to avert teenage pregnancies

Mangochi, July 23, 2014: Itwas one of those rare chilly days of June 26 this year in a district whose temperatures usually get as high as 40˚C or at worst 42˚C amidst sweltering heat. But on this particular day both girls and boys from different education zones in the lakeshore district of Mangochi...

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Mulanje Councillors Urged to Help in Promoting Girl’s Education

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Mulanje, July 23, 2014: Mulanje District Education Office has urged councillors in the district to take part in the promotion of girl’s education. District Education Manager for Mulanje who is also chairperson for Community Development Com...

"The intelligent man is one who has successfully fulfilled many accomplishments, and is still willing to learn more." -Ed Parker

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About 15 houses set on fire in KU over land ownership dispute

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