NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
CIVIL Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) is concerned that male refugees in Nchelenge district are cohabiting with pupils renting boarding houses.
CSPR Luapula Province coordinator Hope Mwelaisha said over 65 school-going girls are living in rented houses with the immigrants who are from Kenani and Mantapala refugee camps.
Ms Mwelaisha is concerned that most of the girls end up pregnant and drop out of school.
She said this in an interview on Thursday after the CSPR quarterly press briefing.
“Most of these young girls live on the Islands on the river and are forced to travel about 30 kilometres by boat to come to land and attend classes. This is very cumbersome for them, forcing them to rent rooms in the villages as their schools have no boarding facilities,” she said.
Ms Mwelaisha said the refugees are aware that the girls also lack provisions as they are unable to frequently travel back to their homes to collect food.
She also said the immigrants are using this need to lure the girls into illicit relationships using food rations they receive in the camps.
Ms Mwelaisha said unfortunately the girls are attracted and are forced into illicit relationships where they pay in kind in exchange for the food.
“We are appealing to Government to construct boarding facilities for our children as school authorities and parents cannot monitor their behaviour when they are renting houses out there,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms Mwelaisha said poverty levels in Luapula Province are high with Pambashe, Chembe, Chifunabuli, Milenge, Bangweulu and Luapula constituencies reporting levels ranging between 64 and 79 percent.
She however said Mansa Central and Bahati constituencies this year recorded the lowest poverty levels in the province which stood at less than 44.2 percent.
Ms Mwelaisha called on Government to accelerate poverty reduction programmes in the province to stop pupils using poverty as a reason to engage in promiscuous behaviour.
NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka