AFRICA/KENYA - A Church program to tackle teenage pregnancies in one of the poorest areas of Kenya

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 local churches   youth  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - There were 100 girls from the villages of Kipanga-ajeni, Burangi, Pokea Mwana and Masheheni, mobilized by teachers in the area, for the launch of the program to tackle teenage pregnancies in the county of Kilifi. The program is promoted by the diocese of Malindi through the Department of Justice and Peace (CJPC MALINDI) in collaboration with Karibuni Onlus.
The launch of the program, which coincides with International Children's Day, took place in the Kipanga-ajeni area, in Magarini County, and was led by Fr. Joseph Ngala, parish priest of St. Anthony Cathedral.
The event began with a series of questions and answers moderated by Moses M. Mpuria, diocesan coordinator of justice and peace of Malindi, during which the girls talked about what pushes them to sexual practices that lead to early pregnancies, and expressed their views on what can be done by them and society to address this issue.
Lack of basic needs due to poverty in the family, uninvolved/ negligent parenting, pressure from peers, lack of role models, poor attitude to the education of girls and access to pornography are some of the issues mentioned by adolescents that lead them to harmful relationships and choices and as a consequence to teenage pregnancy, school dropout and early marriage.
The NGO Karibuni Onlus led by Mr. Gianfranco Ranieri renewed its partnership with the diocese of Malindi earlier this year, supporting the diocesan response initiative to Covid-19 to offer food aid to more than 1,000 families affected by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The NGO therefore started further collaboration with the diocese to tackle adolescent pregnancies in Kilifi and a microcredit initiative in favor of families in difficulty.
According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, teenage pregnancies have become a very serious problem in some areas of western Kenya and the coast with early pregnancies for one out of four girls. Studies on the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents state that teenage pregnancies pose serious health hazards, psychosocial trauma and economic hardship for girls, as many of them come from needy families (Teenage Pregnancy in Kenya's Kilifi County: A qualitative study, 2016).
School closures since March following the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in teenage pregnancies. The program involves 500 vulnerable girls in the villages most affected by teenage pregnancies in the counties of Magarini, Malindi and Kilifi. (M. M. M.) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 14/10/2020)