We honorable members of parliament from Chikhwawa met on Saturday, April 2011, at Makande TDC in Ngabu where the session was headed by the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Andrew Artson with funding from World Vision International, Malawi Economic Justice Network with technical assistance from the district council.
During our deliberations we discussed the following issues that are having big impacts on our lives and therefore we would like government and the District Council to take into consideration during this year’s budget formulation. We, as well, hope NGOs and other stakeholders would also take the issues up as they are working in the district.
The problems have been divided into four priorities; Education, Food Security, Health, and Water and Sanitation.
We would like for government to implement a program in the district that will educate the parents, and even the girl child herself, on the importance of education, as they are a lot of girls currently being forced into early marriages.
Secondly we would like to commend government for implementing the school feeding program in our district. However, we would like to ask for more schools so as to accommodate the growing number of pupils being enrolled in our schools now.
Moreover, most of the schools in the district are in very dilapidated old buildings so much so that that it is very scaring to be learning in these building. As such we would like for government to rehabilitate these schools so that we will have learner friendly classrooms.
In addition to these, most of the schools do not have teacher’s houses. Therefore we would like government to build more teachers’ houses so that we learn without any disruptions.
Not only that most of the schools especially secondary schools are lacking learning materials such as text books, apparatus and chemicals for subjects that need experiments. Hence we would like government to ensure that secondary schools in the district have adequate resources at all times.
To add on to that, Chikhwawa is one of the districts that have been hit hard by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, where a lot of them are depending. Therefore we would like to ask government to put in place measures that will ensure that it runs smoothly and more children paid for.
Last, but not the least, we have discovered that a lot of schools are very far from villages and this makes pupils travel long distances to access education. This is very dangerous, especially for young children. It will be noticed that a lot of children here in the district, especially in very rural areas, start school at a very late stage as such they are usually unable to finish school.
Therefore we would like government to assist us in such areas with junior primary schools so that children will start learning at an early age in their own communities.
Every year Chikhwawa is hit by drought and erratic rains. This usually has a big impact on children mostly than adults. As such we would like government first to continue with the farm input subsidy program that’s underway. In addition to the farm inputs, however we would like to ask government to help farmers in the district to provide them with chemicals to preserve the food stuff such as actelic.
Last but not least, we would also like to ask government to construct irrigation canals since we already have plenty of water bodies in the district, so that even in dry season people will still cultivate crops.
Water and Sanitation
Almost every year the district usually is hit by water borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea as the district does not have sufficient sources of potable water such as boreholes. Therefore we would like government to construct enough boreholes, and repair those that are not in good condition.
There are also big problems that are being created between schools and surrounding communities. This is so bas some communities do share boreholes with the school children as it is the only water source near them. This usually results in commotions that lead to strives between the schools and communities. Therefore we would like to ask government to construct more water facilities in these communities so that we are able to learn in our schools without any problems with the communities.
Last but not least, girls in our constituencies are at times dropping out of school due to lack of toilets in schools. This is so as it becomes very difficult for a girl who is older to relieve herself in bushes that usually she just drops out of school.
Therefore to ensure that Chikhwawa is able to maintain a high percentage of girls in our schools, we would like government to construct toilets in schools, as this problem is being experienced in almost all the schools in the district.
Chikhwawa is one of the districts that do not have adequate health facilities. This problem is very acute in rural areas, that whenever a child falls sick, parents or guardians have to travel very long distances to send them to hospital.
Apart from that most of the schools do not have first aid facilities for emergencies. As a result, when a child falls sick in school he or she has to wait until he/she reaches home to get medical attention. Therefore we would like to appeal to government to provide necessary first aid materials for schools, and build dispensaries or health post in our rural areas so that we can access medical attention there and then.
Finally, we have also realized that there is a very big shortage of health personnel in our hospitals; therefore we would like to ask government to employ more of them and of course build houses for them so that when they are transferred to these areas they will not have accommodation problems.
Rt. Hon Andrew Artson, (Speaker Chikhwawa Children’s Parliament)