The Evangelical Association of Malawi (AEM) has intensified its sexual and reproductive health campaign in Likoma, an island district grappling with rapid population growth and HIV infections.
For the past two weeks, the umbrella body of about 100 churches has been visiting prayer houses and traditional authorities on Likoma and Chizumulu islands to warn people against unprotected sex which leads to unwanted children and sexually transmitted infections.
It is often considered a taboo for churches to promote family planning, but AEM and its consortium of churches on Likoma Island seem determined to counter setbacks hampering youths from accessing contraceptives, sexual reproductive health (SRH) and family planning messages.
“It is easy to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that churches have nothing to do with family planning and SRH,” said AEM programme manager Howard Kasiya.
Nkumpha III described the intervention, funded by the Norwegian Church Aid, as a timely eye-opener on the island often shunned by many government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“The island is already daunted by a population boom. Time has come for fewer children per household,” said the traditional leader.
Likoma district commissioner (DC) Charles Mwawembe said Chizumulu and Likoma islands, measuring 28 square kilometres, have a population of 13 540,up from just about 10 000 in 2008.
“This rapid population growth piles pressure on fish and food security,” said the DC. n