News from Luangwa District (Feira)
by Father Katete
I have just spent a few days here on mission. Luangwa District is situated at the Confluence of the great Zambezi River and Luangwa River. It is about 130km away from Lusaka, it boarders Mozambique on the eastern side and Zimbabwe on the Southern side.
The main source of income for the people in this area is fishing. People start fishing at a very tender age. This contributes to an increase in child labour – a vice that robs them of their future. Girls here are forced into early marriages.
Being a border district, Luangwa witnesses an influx of transient cross-border traders mainly dealing in fish. These traders, to some extent, use cheap child labour to ferry fish from Mozambique–Zumbo district to Zambia using dug-out canoes. This activity has seen a number of young people perishing on the great waters. The last incident witnessed was the capsizing of a canoe killing 6 people. The Zambezi and Luangwa Rivers are infested with crocodiles and hippos – a great danger to fishermen and local villagers as they are frequently attacked and killed.
Some people – especially girls and women who may not have the money to buy fish – offer sex for fish for sale or feed their children. Some fishermen are away a long time and their wives are enticed by traders from other districts with either money, sugar or food. This has seen an increase in the HIV/AIDS prevalent rate. According to the HIV Epidemiological Survey Luangwa’s HIV/AIDS Prevalent rate is estimated at 15.7%, which is very high for a rural district like Luangwa. Coupled with highly illiteracy levels and poverty, the rate is likely to increase.
There is need for more HIV/AIDS Sensitising campaigns in the district. Adult literacy programmes are also needed to remove some people from the doldrums of illiteracy. From the small survey we conducted... out of 10 married women only two may know how to read while four husbands may equally be illiterate. The above estimates may be higher in the interior villages.
Some women have shown great interest in adult literacy classes.
The Anglican Children’s Project with the help from Council of Churches in Zambia is supporting 30 orphans and vulnerable children at the moment. This is a 'drop in the ocean' as there are many more children who lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. Some children are being taken care of by their grandparents who may be too old to support them or are economically incapacitated owing high poverty levels in the district.
The project supports children with school requirements such as books and uniforms. They are also helped with food packs to enhance nutritional values.
Adalisa Sakala and Mr Tembo Charles are co-ordinating the activities here. They are working very hard in supporting and counselling the families in this part of the country.