• Reports indicate that most cases of teenage pregnancy arise from broken families.
• The county, NGOs, and the national government are working together to end the problem
The Kilifi government has launched a campaign against teen pregnancies.
It has partnered with other organisations to find lasting solutions to the problem.
Last year, the county hit the headlines after reports indicated that more than 13,000 girls became pregnant. The number rose to more than 17,000. Some of them were KCSE and KCPE candidates.
The authorities said some girls delivered at home for fear of stigma and that made it difficult to know the exact figure.
Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi launched the campaign — ‘No to teenage pregnancies. Let me be a girl and not a mother’ — in Marereni Kasarani grounds, Magarini.
It brought together county government departments of Gender, Culture and Social Services, Health and Sanitation, and Education. Also brought on board are officers from the national government and nongovernmental organisations.
A 17-member task force has been formed by Governor Amason Kingi to look into the problem. It will go to the ground on a fact-finding mission. It will come up with a report at the end of this month.
Isabella Mwangi a member of the task force said they have already had five sittings since it was formed and created a work plan. Next week they will go to the field to collect more information.
A teenage mother of three-month-old baby attended the launch. Christine Dhahabu, 18, is in Standard 8 at Marafa Primary School, Magarini, thanks to Sauti ya Wanawake organisation that intervened and guided her through counselling and psychosocial support.
"I remained at home for two months when school reopened to take care of my baby. Now I'm back in class. I'm confident that I will do well in the examination," she said.
Dhahabu was accompanied by Elina Dama, 20, who gave birth four years ago and returned to class. She is in Form 4 at Mindhill Secondary School.
Speakers called for a lasting solution to protect girls ad future generations.
Kilifi director of Children's Services George Migosi urged MCAs to pass laws that will restrict the age at which children can start preprimary education.
He said their research had shown that many girls who got pregnant were aged 16 but were still in Standard 5, meaning they started schooling late.
He urged the county government to build and equip nursery schools all over the county. He said broken marriages were partly to blame for teen pregnancies.
"Out of the 90 pregnancy cases reported, many cases are from broken families like a girl without a father," Migosi said.
He appealed to courts to ensure victims of gender-based violence or teenage pregnancy testify before seven days are over. Boys should also be taken care of so they dod not become teen fathers, he added.
Migosi said that of 100 cases of teenage pregnancies, 50 are caused by adolescent boys, something which puts them in danger.
Deputy Governor Saburi urged parents to be at the forefront in monitoring their children to ensure they grow up with good morals, instead of engaging in bad behaviour that causes them problems.
"There are people who are greedy and love minors. Some of the perpetrators do it to girls who are the age of their granddaughters," he said.
Gender, Culture and Social Services executive Maureen Mwangovya and Health executive Anisa Omar said teenage pregnancy is real and must end.
Mwangovya said they will reach out to the community, parents, tuk-tuk and boda-boda riders, opinion leaders, boys and girls.
Omar said 65 per cent of deliveries in the county is done in hospitals, while 35 per cent are still done at home.
(Edited by F'Orieny)