THE Foundation Against Child Marriages and Early Pregnancies Advocacy (FACMEPA) has challenged local non-governmental organisations to mobilise resources and help withdraw children married off during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview, FACMEPA founder Charles Kunda said local NGOs needed to ensure internal mobilisation of resources as opposed to entirely depending on donors.

“I think if they adopt the Policy of FACMEPA, FACMEPA believes in the internally (mobilised) local resource. If you look at Zambia, Zambia is not very poor, Zambia is very rich and what FACMAPE is doing is using internal resources to reach out everywhere. Now the other NGOs, what they think is that only the donors can finish early marriages, especially those induced by COVID-19 and if they haven’t been funded, you find that they get relaxed. We have records that FACMEPA is now having the biggest membership in Zambia and Africa because we have involved the community to understand the dangers of early marriages and child pregnancies at household level,” he said.

“So people are just joining freely and contributing resources freely and knowing that this disease has to be stamped out. So you will find that the membership is growing. We are not even advertising.”

He said over-dependence on donors was accelerating the vice, especially amid the pandemic.

“What is important is patriotism. If you give yourself what you can do for Zambia, not what Zambia can do for you, I think this country in terms of poverty, it will change. Now people wait ‘no, boma iyanganepo’ (government must intervene), ‘no we are waiting for a donor fund’, they are killing the NGOs. And once they are funded, they go to Pamodzi they do workshops. So it is the mindset, once we change the mindset as NGOs, we put Zambia first and the girl child, I am sure this thing will be a thing of the past. We shouldn’t depend on America, China and other countries to come and finish early marriages, meanwhile, our girls in homes are suffering,” said Kunda.