Covid19 has negatively impacted FAWE Kenya as it has stopped direct implementation of interventions in school and vulnerable/marginalized communities. The non existent of government details of how to keep operating in the face of unprecedented disruption has also stopped initiatives that would have contributed to FAWE Kenya coming up with new ways of operation.
Since 80 percent of FAWE Kenya work involves meetings with like-minded organizations and partners, school visits to conduct training and mentorship, participating in national convening, participating in developing national documents including review of education policies. COVID 19 restrictions have deterred including the ban on public gatherings. Part of the work has now moved to the phone, and probably has diminished a bit. However, the organization has embraced the use of virtual activites and keenly observing COVID 19 guidelines for physical interventions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is straining public health systems, triggering unprecedented measures by governments around the world, including movement restrictions and shelter-in-place orders. Evidence from prior outbreaks shows that this crisis could exact a massive toll on women and girls. Women are disproportionally represented in the health and social services sectors, increasing their risk of exposure to the disease. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions also increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. And if health systems redirect resources away from sexual and reproductive health services, women’s access to family planning, antenatal care and other critical services could suffer.
FAWE Kenya since the onset of the pandemic has ensured safety protocols are observed by its staff and partners.
We have engaged in activities that aim to educate and support vulnerable girls and women in the country.
Contextual Analysis - Teenage Pregnancies in Kenya, Pre and during COVID 19 Crisis
In Kenya, one in five girls begins to have children before age 19 Kenya has the third-highest teen pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1,000 births. The National Council for Population and Development (NCPD, 2019) report shows that at the end of 2019, over 379,573 girls, including 10-year-olds, had gotten pregnant with the most disturbing fact being that 20,828 of them were aged between 10 and 14 years. For girls aged 15 – 19 years Nairobi city recorded 24,106 pregnant girls, Nakuru 17,019, Meru (15,353), Narok (14,052), Bungoma (13,920), Kiambu (13,128) and Trans Nzoia (11,687). UNFPA 2019 reports show that one in ten girls began childbearing in Elgeyo Marakwet, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Nyandarua counties, and four in ten girls began childbearing in Narok and Homa bay counties.
The mentioned statistics become worse in crisis times. Between the time Kenya reported its first COVID 19 case on 13th March 2020 and June 2020, Kenya media reported an increase of teenage pregnancies with one health facility in Machakos county recording over 4,000 cases. For any organization working on adolescent sexual health rights, these numbers are possibly lower than the actual number since not all teenagers report to health facilities when they get pregnant. A large number of these cases were attributed to defilement, child abuse/sexual exploitation and child marriage. Unfortunately teenagers in Kenya who wanted to avoid pregnancies when Covid-19 hit were not able to due to imposed curfews, non-availability of contraceptives, non-functional youth friendly clinics and generally sexual and reproductive health services are no longer a priority for the overwhelmed health facilities hence possible rise in cases of teenage pregnancies.
Additionally, with school closures as a result of Covid-19, girls were more at risk to sexual abuse and forced early marriages. Schools provided a safe environment for girls and minimize their risk of exposure on these fronts. In many Counties, girls already face barriers to education and exposure to abuses including child marriages and female genital mutilation which force the girls to abruptly end end their education.