Bungoma County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti has called for a multi-agency approach in addressing and ending teenage pregnancy cases in the county that have reached alarming proportions.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, some 23,221 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the county in the year 2018, 14,473 (2019), 13,376 (2020) and 3,948 between January and March this year
Most of these pregnancies occurred among girls aged between 10-14 years and the figures refer to only those who visited antenatal care facilities, while other cases go unreported.
During the release of the 2020 KCSE results, Education CS Prof. George Magoha announced that 652 girls took their exams in maternity wards across the country, with Bungoma County leading the pack with 43 incidents followed by Meru (38), Nakuru (36) then Kisii and Nandi counties.
And to tackle the menace, Kimiti has now formed County Action Plan committee comprised of various key education stakeholders, relevant government departments and the county government.
At the same time, stakeholder committees have also been formed across the ten sub counties that will be chaired by Deputy County Commissioners to ensure that all the necessary build up activities for getting to the root of teenage pregnancies are captured and dealt with.
The County Commissioner said through these committees and subsequent public awareness meetings that have been lined up, the government expects to get accurate and updated data on the exact population of teenagers who get pregnant while in school, the reasons for the vice and the perpetrators behind it for proper mitigation strategies.
Speaking during the inauguration of the County Action plan at his boardroom, Kimiti said that this time round, the approach will be unique from all the previous year as all the actors will work in a concerted manner to bring the vice to an end instead of working at cross purposes.
He said the County is also in the process of setting up Boda boda committees and using the established Nyumba kumi committees to unravel the monster of teenage pregnancies that if left unchecked will lead to total destruction of the girl child.
Kimiti called on parents, guardians, teachers, faith based and non-governmental organizations to work together with the government to ensure teen pregnancy cases are brought down completely.
“Parents are culpable and should be responsible because they are the first line of defense and protection of their children,’’ he said.
Kimiti called upon the council of elders to guide the young people as they are custodians of traditional wisdom.
He emphasized that a permanent solution to this problem will be reached only if the residents and relevant authorities work together with the government.
The County Commissioner said the security team will not hesitate to charge heartless men who impregnate school children, adding that there will be no room for leniency as the law will catch up with the presumed violators and punish them accordingly so to act as a deterrent measure to others.
Kimiti said the county now has an operational Gender-Based Violence rescue centre at Ndengelwa, a project that was facilitated by the national government through the office of the local women representative that is currently offering guiding and counseling services to survivors.
By Roseland Lumwamu