Kenya’s population is largely young. Persons aged 19 years and below account for more than half of population while those aged 15 years and below form 45% of country’s population (census, 2009).
Young people especially girls have unique health and development needs, they are faced by enormous challenges such as teenage pregnancy which often compromise their health and future. Early sexual debut, unplanned pregnancy, and higher number of births remain issues for adolescent girls and young women.
According to the Kenya demographic and health survey (2014), 15% of women age 15-19 have already had at least one birth. The percentage of women who have begun child bearing increases rapidly with age, from about 3% among women age 15 to 40% among women age 19. The rural-urban difference is small; indicating that early child bearing is nearly the same across place of residence.
The study also shows that slightly more than 3 in 10 women age 15-19 with no education have begun child bearing compared with only 12% among those who have secondary or higher level of education. Similarly, teenagers from poor households are more likely to have begun child bearing (26%) than teenagers from wealthier households (10%).
Prevalence of early childbearing is highest in counties within Nyanza region at 22.2% (KDHS, 2014) followed by Rift Valley 21.2% and Coast 21%; it is lowest in Central 10% and North Eastern region 12.2%. According to KDHS 2014 Homabay County has highest rate of early childbearing which stands at 33.3%, followed by Nyamira at 27.8% and 24.3% within the Nyanza region.
Teenage pregnancy is one of the key causes of school drop out by girls. Girls therefore need to be protected from teenage pregnancy and supported if pregnancy occurs to enable them pursue their education. Candle of Hope has worked with the schools and ensured that;
- A pregnant female learner shall be allowed to continue with classes for as long as possible.
- Both the student and her parents shall be counseled on the importance of ensuring a good outcome of the pregnancy by attending Ante-Natal Clinic and ensuring safe delivery, and the possibilities of continuing with education after delivery;
- We have conducted assessment through the help and support of the schools to get information on circumstances leading to pregnancy and about the other party
- We have supported the young girls to access legal action (by collaboration with Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA) for action against if the father of the unborn child is an adult (over 18 years). Child-fathers (boys less than 18 years) shall receive counseling and rehabilitation;
- We are currently working with young mother encouraging and supporting them to learn to look after their child in order to bond with the child as much as possible.
- We are also working and supporting young mothers to attend child welfare clinics (youth friendly) and ensure that babies are fully
- We are also sensitizing local communities as well as the learning institutions such as schools, universities to address HIV, AIDS and STIs through education by developing skills and values and changing attitudes to promote positive
Through our initiatives dubbed ‘a sisters keeper’ we have rescued young girl who was at the verge of giving out her child. We took her through counseling and she is happily taking care of her baby with our continued support.