According to Kenya Data and Health Survey, one in five girls aged between 15 and 19 years in Kenya is either pregnant or has already given birth.
“I have a baby who is now one year and nine months old. I conceived when I was still in school, I was in form two. I dropped out of school and my mother chased me away and so I had to move in with the baby’s father,” says Irene Njenga.
Since the girls are giving birth when they are not ready, the risk of complications at birth is also high both for the baby and the mother.
“The challenge that I experienced with my first baby is that the baby was sickly. So I kept taking the baby to the hospital because it was underweight. I was given drugs to help the baby gain weight,” Margaret Adhiambo recalls.
With no idea of how to take care of the babies, the girls’ parents are forced to step in so as to ensure the baby is well cared for.
“Cleaning and breastfeeding the baby was a problem to her. I had to keep reminding her because it seems she was not prepared for the baby. She saw it as a burden,” Irene Njenga’s mother in law told Africanews correspondant Ronald Oduor
Facing numerous challenges in the informal settlements, most of these teenage mothers are struggling to survive while also taking care of their babies.
“At some point the baby’s father lost his job and so we were struggling. Though I am grateful to God, life is still challenging. I am just happy that despite that, my baby is now one year and nine months old,” Irene adds.
“Young Mothers Africa enrolled me into their program. They gave me peanuts and porridge flour for the baby and advised me to feed the baby well and that the baby will be able to gain some weight,” explains Margaret Adhiambo.
The call now is to have practical solutions to help the young girls while also sensitizing the community on the benefits of protecting underage girls from early pregnancies.