At least 3,000 girls pregnant in Turkana since March

Statistics from health facilities in Turkana County indicate that at least 3,000 girls are pregnant. Some are being made pregnant by boys as young as 12 years.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Authorities in Turkana County have raised an alarm over the bulging number of girls who are pregnant since March this year.
  • Due to the vastness of the area and the locals’ nomadic lifestyle of settling at hard to reach remote villages, there are close to 2,000 cases that have not been officially recorded.
  •  Pregnancies of children as young as 11 years have also been reported.
  • Some of these young girls are being made pregnant by boys as young as 12 years.

Authorities in Turkana County have raised an alarm over the bulging number of girls who are pregnant since March this year.

Turkana County menstrual hygiene champion Rael Akoru, said statistics from health facilities in major towns in the county that include Lodwar, Lokichar, and Kakuma indicate that at least 3, 000 girls are pregnant.

She said that due to the vastness of the area and the locals’ nomadic lifestyle of settling at hard to reach remote villages, there are close to 2, 000 cases that have not been officially recorded.

She also noted that some girls are being married off to suitors in exchange for livestock. Pregnancies of children as young as 11 years have also been reported, she said.

"Some of these young girls are being made pregnant by boys as young as 12 years," she said.

She noted that lack of access to information on reproductive health and sexual education was a major contributor.

Discuss sex

"Many parents have abandoned their responsibility of talking to their children about sex leading to the cases," Ms Akoru said.

She was speaking last week during the ongoing mass public awareness exercise on sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention rolled out by International Rescue Committee (IRC) through funding from Unicef.

IRC Turkana Field Manager Anthony Macharia, said that together with key stakeholders including Turkana County Government, Diocese of Lodwar and Department of Children services, they have cited a significant increase in intimate partner violence against girls and women in the county fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Protect girls

"School girls at home are among the most vulnerable group exposed to intimate partner violence. Through road shows within key hotspots areas in Lodwar town, we are sensitizing locals on why it is important to protect girls and women," Mr Macharia said.

IRC has an established Turkana wellness centre at Lodwar County and Referral Hospital that acts as a one-stop-shop for psychosocial and clinical care for victims.

"For those who will be stigmatised to access the facility, we have a toll free number. We want the women to address SGBV and ensure our women and children are empowered," he said.