The Kenya Population Situation Analysis released Wednesday paints the grim picture of young girls becoming mothers at very tender ages.
The report showed Kenya to be among the countries with a large number of adolescent pregnancies globally.
Worldwide, 7.3 million of the births are by girls between the age of 15 and 19 years of which two million births of this are by girls under the age of 15. Of the two million births, 90 per cent of them are already in marriage, revealing that girls are being married off at very tender age.
Kenya contributes to this percentage by having 103 in every 1000 pregnancies being attributed to girls between 15 and 19 years.
Speaking at Laico Regency during the launch of this year’s report under the theme ‘Motherhood in Childhood, facing the challenges of adolescent pregnancy’, Prof Ben Jarabi said that the impact of early motherhood is staggering-depression, isolation, stigma and even death.
“The uncomfortable picture that emerges in these early pregnancies is that 70000 adolescents in developing countries die each year from complications during pregnancy and child birth,” said the Population Studies and Research lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
More alarming is that 26 in every 100 girls in Kenya are married before they reach 18 years. These young marriages have are highest in North Eastern Province, Coast Province and Nyanza province.
The report attributes disparities in income and education among the households in Kenya as major factors leading to early pregnancies.
Increasing levels of education and household wealth led to a girl’s delayed marriages thereby reducing the chances of early pregnancies.
“Kenyan girls who are relatively poor or who have little education enter into marriages earlier than their better off counterparts leading to poorer households having more children than the wealthy families,” reads the report.
The report also shows the poorest segment of the population do not have access to contraceptives and reproductive health and that contraceptives use for the last 50 years has been more popular with the educated population.
“The poorest of the poor families have has an average of eight children whereas their wealthy counterparts have an average children of three children,” reads Kenya Population Situation Analysis 2013 report.