In Pictures: Schools Closed, Pregnancies Rise in COVID Affected Kenya | Kenya
Jackline Bosibori cried when she learned that she was pregnant. The mother of the 17-year-old, who is raising six children on her own, has collapsed in their one-room house. They had been threatened with eviction several times and could not afford another mouth to feed.
“If I was in school, this could not have happened,” said Bosibori, who wants to become a lawyer.
With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and his mother selling vegetables by the side of the road, Bosibori got involved with a man in his twenties. When she told him she was pregnant, he stopped answering her calls.
During her pregnancy, she took part in tasks such as washing clothes in the puddles of the slum in Kibera, a poor suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where people live in tin-roofed houses piled up and crisscrossed by railroad tracks.
In a nearby market, she bought second-hand clothes for the baby.
Global shutdowns could lead to higher rates of teenage pregnancy, non-governmental organizations working on reproductive health have warned.
In the far north of Lodwar city, teenage pregnancies among clients of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aid group nearly tripled to 625 from June to August this year, from 226 during the same period a year earlier, according to IRC data.
In neighboring Kakuma refugee camp, the number of teenage pregnancies among clients rose to 51 between March and August 2020, from 15 during the same period in 2019.
At the clinic where Bosibori went for antenatal visits, often with one of her classmates who also got pregnant around the same time as her, the number of pregnant women increased.
“Since the start of COVID-19, we have more of it,” said nurse Joy Ambiyo.
And more and more pregnant girls may be skipping doctor visits altogether.
“We know that young girls who become pregnant do not have access to health services like adult women because of the judgment,” said Ademola Olajide, representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Kenya.
This makes them more vulnerable to health complications and unsafe abortions, he added.
Globally, pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among girls aged 15 to 19, according to the World Health Organization.
Bosibori herself had some complications. Her doctors recommended a Caesarean, but she and her mother Ann were concerned and sought approval from a traditional healer.
With the healer’s blessing, Bosibori underwent the procedure and delivered a healthy 3.3kg baby girl.
“I’m glad the baby is here; the anxiety is now over, ”Bosibori said as she held her newborn baby on the family’s only bed, flanked by dusty old speakers that double as bedside tables.
Until January, when Kenya’s schools are expected to fully reopen, Bosibori will look after the baby full time, doing her homework when she can.
After that, Ann, who had Bosibori when she was 18, said she would find a way to care for her grandchild.
“The girl has to go back to school.