Government has observed that cultural backgrounds and lack of proper school infrastructure were among contributing factors that forces girls to go into marriages at a tender age in rural areas.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chileshe Mulenga said the issue of early marriages can be partially resolved through advocating for improved infrastructure alongside advocacy from stakeholders and traditional rulers.
Dr. Mulenga was speaking when a consortium spearheaded by Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs looking at ending early child marriages paid a courtesy call on him today.
He stated that the involvement of traditional leaders in the fight against early marriages was paramount because they were influential leaders in rural communities.
He said there was also need to find long term solutions which consider a broader picture of incorporating social economic status of rural communities.
Dr. Mulenga further noted that there was need to harmonize the definition of a child between stakeholders because traditionally, a child is considered an adult when she reaches puberty while some documents consider someone a child up to the ages of 16 and 18
The Permanent Secretary stated that there was also need to engage scholars from higher learning institution to do research in the country because they understand the cultures in the country better than some institutions which come from abroad to research.
And Madrine Mbuta, a chief planner in the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, disclosed that a team has been put up to look at modalities surrounding ending child marriages in communities.
Mrs. Mbuta stated that a consortium, which comprises ten ministries, was put up and was working with some cooperating partners and civil society in an effort to reduce and eventually end child marriages.
She named the ministries as Home Affairs, Labour, Community Development, Mother and Child Development and Local Government and Housing among others.
She said according to the 2007 demographic survey in child marriages, Eastern province was leading at 60 percent, followed by Luapula at 58 percent while Northern was at 48 percent and Northwestern was at 47 percent.
Mrs. Mbuta said this gloomy situation calls for concerted efforts to reduce early marriages.
She stated that traditional leaders such as senior chief Nzamane and Madzimawe were instrumental in the fight against early marriages and has since urged other chiefs to emulate them.
Mrs. Mbuta further said a number of chiefs will be visited during a five day tour of the district to meet youths, middle aged and other members in the communities.
She said a meeting for stakeholders in the district was also scheduled to gather technical views on child marriages adding that the programmes end in 2016.