High youth unemployment, poverty and substance abuse have left youth in Karonga with high HIV prevalence and early pregnancies.
Karonga district youth officer Kondwani Neba said during a graduation ceremony for 30 youths trained in vocational skills, that this is because the district has a vibrant fishing industry and high circulation of money by virtue of being a border district.
The graduation ceremony was convened by the youth department of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia at Lupembe Youth Vocational Skills Centre in the district.
Neba said: “Karonga, which has a 9.8 percent HIV prevalence rate, the second highest after Nkhata Bay in the Northern Region, is a ticking bomb.
“The biggest percentage of the new HIV infections are the youths, with girls getting pregnant as early as 12. This means youths start having sex at an early age. Even those patronising pubs are mostly the youth. All this is because youth lack formal and informal education.”
Neba said as a district, they have put in place measures to address the situation by increasing youth participation in government programmes and economic empowerment.
He said: “The youth are a potential human resource, who, if guided, can contribute to the development of the nation.”
The synod’s general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo said the church has a role in supporting government in empowering the youth with both formal and informal education.
The youths were trained in cane weaving, brick laying, visual arts and sign writing.