from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – SEVERE food shortages sweeping across some Southern African countries are exposing girls to sex-for-food trade and forced marriage.
The trends have been noted in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
These countries account for 75 percent of the people needing food assistance in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
More than 8 million people need food aid.
“We are extremely concerned at the increasing number of adolescent girls caught up in food insecurity, especially where they are being traded off by family members in an effort to earn the next meal,” said Stuart Katwikirize, Plan International regional head of Disaster Risk Management.
The organisation is calling on the international community to make assistance available to millions in desperate need, particularly children and adolescent girls who are at highest risk.
Limited access to basic sanitation services including menstrual and hygiene management as well as safe drinking water also remain major obstacles to achieving improvements in the health and development of children and women in all four countries.
It underpins a host of problems, contributing to childhood illness, malnutrition and elevated school drop-out rates for adolescent girls.
“Many girls face heightened risks of coerced and transactional sex and exploitative labour, as well as social isolation,” said Phoebe Kasoga, Plan International director for Malawi.
– CAJ News