Maputo — The United Nations Women is tackling rising incidents of child marriages blamed on the worst drought in Mozambique in years. More than 2 million people, especially in the southern and central regions, have been affected by the severe drought since 2015.
The prolonged crisis has exhausted household food stock, disrupted lives and livelihood. For Mozambican women and girls, who are primarily responsible for managing food and water for their families, the drought has also resulted in increased work burden and earlier marriages.
This has led to lost childhood and education opportunities. This is in a context where early and forced marriages were already prevalent. Officials said the prolonged drought and the accompanying economic hardships had led to more parents marrying off their girls early because there would be one less mouth to feed. Inês Zitha, a community animal health worker based in Djavanhane, in the district of Guijá, Gaza, described the situation as serious. "When they marry a young woman, it is a lifetime of deprivation and abject poverty from the very onset of marriage In the Southern African country, 48 percent of girls are married before the age of 18 and 14 percent are married before age 15. With support from the Government of Belgium, UN Women has implemented a project to shield children from marriage.