The teenage pregnancy rate in Kilifi remains stubbornly high, despite efforts by various stakeholders to find solutions.
Thousands of schoolgirls fall pregnant every year.
While an estimated 18.4 per cent of girls ages 15-19 across Kenya have begun childbearing, in Kilifi the rate is higher, at 21.8 per cent, with girls more vulnerable this year as they stay out of school due to the pandemic.
To fight this worrying trend, a group of youth from Mariakani are running mentorship and education programmes.
Mary Kazungu, 26, says they did a survey that found many girls fall victim to teenage pregnancy due to lack of sanitary pads. The study was done in conjunction with Kilifi Citizen Forum and Bunge la Mwananchi Sauti ya Wanawake.
The survey also found that boda boda operators, often suspected of preying on girls, are not necessarily the cause of teenage pregnancies.
“Boda boda operators told us they are just messengers who are sent to pick girls from one point to a certain destination. There are several cases at the police station, which we followed up,” Kazungu says.
The youth champion said among the cases is a father who impregnated his daughter. “After being questioned, he seemed unworried about ‘eating his own honey’,” she says.