• Nakuru came second followed by Kajiado; population official says some of the girls ended up depressed and committed suicide.
• Official blames sexual violence, saying a girl younger than 18 cannot consent to sex
Nairobi has the highest number of children impregnated last year, latest data from the Ministry of Health shows.
At least 2,432 girls below 18 years were impregnated or gave birth last year in the city-county.
The figures were released on Wednesday by the National Council for Population and Development, which also launched a roadmap to fight underage pregnancies.
Nakuru had the second-highest burden with 1,748 children impregnated last year.
It is followed by Kajiado where 1,523 minors conceived, Kericho ( 1,006 ), Homa Bay ( 957 ), Narok ( 910 ), Garissa ( 901 ), Kisii ( 723 ), Bungoma ( 592 ), Turkana (560 ) and Kakamega ( 536 ).
NCPD assistant director of population Lucy Kimondo, who presented the 2019 figures, said many of the girls ended up severely depressed and some committed suicide.
“There is also a very high rate of fistula among these girls. Imagine a 10-year-old girl trying to push a baby during birth,” she said.
The counties with the lowest cases of teenage pregnancy are Isiolo with 14 girls, Lamu ( 22 ), Embu ( 25 ), Nyandarua ( 47 ), Kirinyaga ( 53 ) and Elgeyo Marakwet with 59.
Nationally, a total of 379,573 minors got pregnant last year.
More than 20,828 of the minors are below 14 years.
Kimondo blamed sexual violence, saying a girl younger than 18 cannot consent to sex.
“Girls with no education are more likely to become pregnant compared to girls with secondary and above education level."
The data was collected using the Kenya Health Information System – an online reporting platform present in most local health facilities since 2011.
On overall prevalence, Narok remains the worst-hit because 40 per cent of all girls there are impregnated by 18.
It is followed by Homa Bay with 33 per cent prevalence, West Pokot ( 29 per cent), Tana River ( 28 per cent), Nyamira ( 28 per cent) and Samburu at 26 per cent.
Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo said men who impregnate girls should be castrated.
At least 534 girls in Migori were impregnated last year.
“When we talk of teenage pregnancy in Kenya we have to address the elephant in the room, and that is men,” she said during the meeting in Nairobi.
She said pregnancy means there was unprotected sex, which also exposes the children to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea.
Planning Principal Secretary Saitoti Torome, who was chief guest, said the country was in a crisis.
“Numbers don’t lie and if it’s true, then we are in a crisis,” he said.
Torome said the government's policy is to return the underage mothers to school, "but only a few of them go back because of high stigma".
Unesco regional director Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta called for a better environment to return the children to class.
“Out of the girls who become pregnant in the country, 98 per cent do not make it back to the classroom, thus ushering them to a future with no hope,” she said.
Edited by R.Wamochie