Gatsibo records significant decrease in teen pregnancy

Gatsibo District has recorded a decrease in teen pregnancies from over 800 to 518 in six months, which is a significant achievement in promoting reproductive health and reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies in the district, according to officials.

From July to December 2023, 518 children were born in various age groups, with 170 born to mothers aged 14 to 17 and 348 born to those 18–19. Despite the numbers, the district has experienced a decline in teenage pregnancies, with over 800 births in the first six months of the financial year.

The district had implemented various measures to tackle the issue, such as strengthening sexual education for both in-school and out-of-school youth, mentoring parents through akagoroba k’ababyeyi, and combating drug abuse, among other strategies.

Marceline Mukamana, Gatsibo’s Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs, said, “We found out that we should change the methods of addressing teenage pregnancies because, despite our efforts, the number of births among teenagers remained high.”

Marceline Mukamana, Gatsibo's Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs said the decrease in figures is attributed mainly to involving youngsters in discussions. Photo by Emmanuel Nkangura
Marceline Mukamana, Gatsibo’s Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs said the decrease in figures is attributed mainly to involving youngsters in discussions. Photo by Emmanuel Nkangura
Mukamana mentioned that the district had made a change in the reproductive health teaching methods, allowing teenagers additional time and freedom to express their opinions. Furthermore, they established village groups to collect information about prevailing issues and to tackle any emerging concerns.

She said: “We decided to protect the child who is involved, not adults taking measures. We have created groups in the village throughout the district to elaborate on the calibre of the issue by giving them information about the existing problem so that when a problem arises, they can provide information. We have seen results where many children give us information.”

The Vice Mayor added: “Umudugudu at school, a strategy we established where children from the same village meet to discuss their problems and ensure they don’t skip school, and the appointment of two special workers to monitor children’s issues, including a special worker and a lawyer, played a key role in the engagement of teenagers in discussions and decision-making processes.”

Teen mothers used to make complaints, and people were arrested, but follow-ups on other legal aspects like child support were not very much accounted for. “We hired a lawyer who is responsible for taking care of these children daily throughout the district.”

False information, poverty, and a lack of parental role in raising girls, to name a few, were also among the factors discussed that lead to early pregnancy, hence suggesting the need to engage girls in early sexual reproductive health discussions.

Esperance Mutesi’s 16-year-old friend (name withheld) was given false information by her boyfriend, who later got her pregnant.

“He lied to her, saying that during summer a girl cannot get pregnant. He kept spoiling her with gifts, including sweets, a watch, and a Dolce & Gabbana bag. Later, he got her pregnant,” 17-year-old Mutesi told The New Times.

Clement Sebatware, the child protection and strategic advisor in Gatsibo District, stated that the establishment of village clubs has led to a 50 per cent decrease in teen pregnancies, in partnership with Plan International, World Vision, and other organisations.Gatsibo adolescent girls tipped on reproductive health

Misinformation on sexual reproductive health was highlighted as one of the root causes of early pregnancy.

Sebatware urged parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about sexual reproductive health. He emphasised the importance of providing accurate information and debunking myths to prevent any further cases of early pregnancy.

By addressing these issues head-on, he believed that the community could effectively combat the alarming rate of teen pregnancies to zero per cent in the future.








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