Pregnant and lactating women getting their food rations at Nyanyadzi area in Chimanimani district (Photo by Munyaradzi Nkomo- World Vision)

Kenya: Teenage pregnancy is on the rise in Kisumu county

OPINION – Teenage pregnancy has reached alarming levels in the Kisumu County of Kenya. According to Plan International Kenya, teenage pregnancy has gone up from 22 percent to 42 percent in recent time.

Teenagers in Kisumu County, 25 percent, reported to have had sex before the age of 15 years and 80 percent of teenage pregnancies occur in primary school.  In addition, 42 percent of teenage girls have been forced to drop out of school due to unintended pregnancy, while adults between the ages of 20 to 30 years who are the bodaboda operators are responsible for 50 percent of all the pregnancies.

Teenage pregnancy in Kisumu is more rampant in rural areas where there is a lot of poverty, gender inequality, lack of sexual and reproductive health information and services and lack of comprehensive sexuality education.

Despite the launch of the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy (2015), which emphasizes access to comprehensive sexuality education and adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services, a comprehensive sexuality education is not offered in most schools as a national program.

There is a need to introduce age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education in primary schools. I believe that once an adolescent girl is equipped with sexual reproductive health and rights information, she can decide when and with whom to have children with as she grows older.

I call upon the ministry of education, the ministry of health and the county government of Kisumu County to work together and ensure that the national adolescent sexual and reproductive health policy of 2015 and other policies and laws that revolve around adolescents’ health are implemented.

Michael Okun Oliech is a communication officer at dance4life Kenya, a youth serving Non-Governmental Organization that does sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy and behavior change communication. He has a BA in Development Studies, undergone training on media advocacy, and budget advocacy by Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa- Kenya and Choice for Youth and Sexuality of the Netherlands. He is also a well-known blogger on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Issues, a human rights activist, LGBT rights defender and youth advocate at Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa. His twitter handle is @mikeokunson.

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