DAR ES SALAAM, The European Union Delegation in Tanzania has launched a Euros 600,000 (equivalent to 1,400,000,000 Tanzania shillings) three-year project (2017 � 2020) to counter child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in the East African country.

The project, funded by the EU, will be implemented by Plan International Tanzania in partnership with Children's Dignity Forum (CDF) and New Light For Children Organisation (NELICO), Tackle Africa and Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) in Geita and Tarime districts.

Head of Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania, Ambassador Roeland van de Geer underlined the EU's commitment to acting in genuine partnership with Tanzania, international and regional organizations, and civil society to combat violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

"Child marriage and FGM are a violation of girls' human rights. These harmful practices have a devastating impact on a girl's health, her well-being and personal development but they also have a detrimental ripple effect on the society as a whole. Ending child marriage means a positive effect on the health and education of girls and their children, it contributes to a lower fertility rate and increases women's expected earnings and household welfare," he said.

Plan International Tanzania Deputy Country Director, Gwynneth Wong, said that child marriage in Tanzania prevails at the rate of 37%, where three out of ten girls enter into marriage before the age of 18 with the northern Mara Region having the highest rate of 55% and Geita Region 37%.

Wong also revealed that while the national prevalence rate of female genital mutilation is at 10%, Mara is at the rate of 32%, three times the national rate. All these practices deprive the girl child of their potential to contribute to both national and personal developments.

The girls are deprived of their right to enjoy their childhood and reaching their goals. Subjecting them to early marriages and mutilating their genitals puts them at risk of maternal health complications and even deaths. This fuels the poverty cycle and is against the UN Sustainable Development Goals, she added.

The project targets over 1,500 in-school and out-of-school girls aged between the age of 10 � 24, and aims to prevent the incidences of harmful traditional practices of child marriage and FGM through empowering girls and strengthening of community, civil society and government support systems to respond to girls' rights violation and challenges.