Following a surge in child marriage in the country, Child Rights Empowerment and Development Organisation (CEDO) has launched a 12-month project aimed at combating the vice in Kiryandongo District.
Ms Patricia Anyu, CEDO programme officer, says that the organisation was coerced to redirect its efforts to fighting child marriage after realising that the situation was getting out of hand.
During the launch held on Thursday at Kiryandongo district local government headquarters, Ms Anyu said that it worries seeing children marrying at an early age putting their lives at stake.
Pointers indicate that northern Uganda tops in child marriage at an estimated 59% followed by the western region at 58%, eastern and east central regions at 52% each while West Nile region stands at 50%.
The central region stands at 41%, south west at 37% while Kampala has the lowest at 21%.
Ms Anyu said that the project also aims to address gender inequalities noting that in some communities, investing in boys is often seen as a better asset.
However, he said that when poverty strikes, girls are given away in marriage to reduce the number of children to feed, clothe and educate.
The project which will be implemented in Kigumba, Kiryandongo, Mutunda and Bweyale sub – counties will also focus on implementing and financing important strategies, policies and services for girls and young women. It will also focus on discouraging harmful gender norms.
The programme officer added that the project will also look at facilitating the creation of district budget advocacy committee meetings on ending child marriage.
Launching the project, Ms Edith Aliguma, the Kiryandongo District LC 5 Vice chairman, called upon the implementing partners working in Kiryandongo and at the national level to support the cause by enacting a district ordinance aimed at fighting child marriage in Kiryandongo district.
“There are by-laws at sub-counties but they are not strengthened by the district. We call upon partners to come in and help us form the district ordinance which will reinforce the by-laws at the sub – counties,” she said.
Ms Aliguma cited culture, negligence, ignorance, poverty and attitude as the main causes of child marriage in the country.
According to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Target 5.3 aims to eliminate all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriages by 2030.
Girls not Brides – an organisation that advocates for girl children says that girls from poor families are two and a half times more likely to marry before 18 than girls from wealthier families.
The organisation says that child marriage keeps girls poor by depriving them of opportunities, education and access to paid employment adding that when girls have access to economic opportunities, they can plan a more prosperous future for themselves, their families and their communities.