In Malawi and Mozambique, girls as young as thirteen are being forced to become child brides as a result of climate change
Everyone thinks they know what climate change looks like. It is that polar bear adrift on its ice floe. It is melting glaciers and rising sea levels. It is an apocalyptic future of cities disappearing beneath the waves. The story of climate change tends to be one of a coming catastrophe, of signs of trouble further down the track.
But what if the human disaster is already happening, hidden in full view? What if it is the young girl sitting in the doorway of her mud hut in in a small African village, nursing her first baby as she watches her friends trot off to school? What if climate change is already creating a generation of child brides?
The Brides Of The Sun reporting project travelled to Malawi and Mozambique to investigate and found widespread evidence of child marriage a result of the changing weather. Due to rising temperatures hitting families in Africa hard and crops failing amid more frequent droughts and flooding, millions of girls are reported to be forced to become child brides.
The investigation, funded by the European Journalism Centre, found many parents who relied on farming or fishing could no longer afford to feed and educate their daughters and instead were marrying them off early to young men better placed to support them.
In 2015, Unicef warned that the total number of child brides across Africa as a whole could more than double to 310 million by 2050 if current trends continue, and the problem is of course not limited to one continent alone.
The team at Brides Of The Sun gave some of the child brides video cameras, so that they could record a 360 video selfie of what climate change has done to the land around them and how it has affected their lives.
The girls also shared their individual stories with the Brides of the Sun team.
The reporters behind Brides Of The Sun are Gethin Chamberlain, Maria Udrescu and Miriam Beller
Compiled by Victoria Fell
Caroline Banda is 19 years old and lives in Yohane town in Malawi. She has a one year old son, Yankho. Her father reluctantly allowed her to marry at the age of 16 after floods destroyed his farmland and he was struggling to support his seven children.
Filomena Antonio is 19. Her husband Momade Churute, 27, paid her father MT 2,000 ($33) to marry her when she was 15. She has 10 brothers and two sisters. She and have two sons, Amadinho, 2, and Azamad, aged two months. They live in the town of Moma in Nampula Province on the east coast of Mozambique
Lucy Anusa is 15 years old and was married at 14. She gave birth to a daughter earlier this year but has been abandoned by her husband. The youngest of three sisters, she now lives with her parents in Namalaka near the southern end of Lake Malawi.
Maliya Mapira is 16 years old. She married husband Maliki Hestone when she was 15 and the couple live in Swarare village, Ngokwe, Malawi, with their six month old son Bashiru Akim. When a teacher got her pregnant, her parents were unable to support her so she chose to marry instead.
Ntoya Sande is 15 and lives in Kachaso village, Nsanje district, Malawi. She was married at 13 to Sande Chimkangu, who was 19 at the time. They have a one year old daughter, Silika Sande. He paid her parents MWK 25,000 ($34) and 50 kg of sugar. Their crops were destroyed by the flooding which swamped the district in 2015.
Rute Fumulani is 16 years old and lives in the village of Kachaso, Nsanje district, Malawi. She lost both her parents in catastrophic flooding that hit the area in 2015. She married husband Fumulani in the same year at the age of 14: the couple have a son, Thokozani, aged one year and two months. They live in a two room hut with her husband’s nine year old brother, Eliya, and five year old sister, Amines. They earn a maximum of MWK 500 (about 50p) on days they can find work and eat only on three days a week.
Theresa Januario was married at the age of 15. Now 22, she lives with her parents and her two children – daughter Atija, three, and son David, one – in Moma in Nampula Province, on the east coast of Mozambique. She left school shortly after her marriage and her fisherman husband Amiro Age, 25, abandoned her to look for work in the city of Beira in 2015. He has never returned.