Kenya Faces Teen Pregnancy Crisis as Human Rights Commission Urges Action Against County Governors

By Seliphar Machoni

Teenage pregnancies have reached alarming levels in Kenya, with certain counties bearing the brunt of this issue.

County governors have been urged to take immediate action to stem the rising tide of teenage pregnancies.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has strongly criticized county leaders for their failure to address the high rates and has issued red cards to 20 governors.

A staggering 696 girls were impregnated daily in 2023 according to a report by the National Syndemic Disease Control Council.

“Teenage pregnancies are pressing issues that demand urgent attention, as they represent grave human rights violations,” remarked Davis Malombe, the Executive Director of KHRC.

Malombe accused county governors of neglecting to implement effective measures to prevent unintended teenage pregnancies among girls aged 15 to 19.

Specifically, ten governors were singled out for their lack of efforts in curbing teenage pregnancies, while another ten were identified as contributing the most per capita.

The counties with the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies include Nairobi with 452 cases, Kakamega with 328, Bungoma with 294, Kilifi with 224, Meru with 206, Kisii with 192, Machakos with 178, and Narok with 176.

Meanwhile, Samburu leads in terms of per capita contribution with 50.1, followed by West Pokot with 36.3, Marsabit with 29.4, Migori with 23, Kajiado with 21.8, Baringo with 20.3, Siaya with 20.9, Taveta with 18, Trans Nzoia with 17.9, and Isiolo with 16.7 per cent.

Annet Nerima, a Program Manager at KHRC, pointed out that these governors not only failed to reduce teenage pregnancies but also violated several human rights, including the right to education, life, dignity, health, equality, freedom from discrimination, and security.

In addition to analysing data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2022, the commission found that poverty, gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices, and school closures experienced in 2020 contributed to some teenage pregnancies.

Furaha Charo, a Program Advisor at KHRC, urged the Ministries of Health and Education, as well as the Council of Governors, to collaborate in addressing the crisis.

Charo emphasized the Ministry of Education’s responsibility to ensure that every teenage girl can return to school and receive psychosocial support without obstacles.

The Ministry of Health should also reaffirm its commitment to comprehensive sexual education as outlined in the Eastern and Southern Africa Commitment.

Furthermore, the Council of Governors was urged to conduct a thorough investigation into the crisis and formulate comprehensive policies aimed at preventing and managing teenage pregnancies.

Parents were reminded to prioritize the well-being and welfare of their children by the Children’s Act.

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