Teenage pregnancy is a big issue in Zambia: about 29% of all pregnancies are teenage. According to UNICEF, three in ten young women aged 13-19 have started bearing children – that is, they have given birth already or are currently pregnant with their first child.
The residents blame these numbers on poverty and poor education facilities. According to the government statistics, 54% of the population live below the poverty line. Most families cannot afford education, so many children get idle at the age of 13 when they finish primary schools.
Apart from pregnancies, STIs and HIV are very high. That made Kedrick Kasabwe, a 50-year-old man from Mbalala Island, start a campaign for sex education. He organised meetings with young teenagers. Other parents joined the club discussing methods of contraception.
“The problem is that these young boys and girls are sexually active without knowledge of its dangers. Our job is to teach them how to go about it and avoid unnecessary pregnancies and diseases,” Kasabwe explained. “We cannot stop young and idle teenagers from engaging in sexual activities. But, through the talks, we can curb its dangers.”
Another contributing factor is the problem of child marriages. In rural parts of the country, it mostly hits girls below the age of 18. As a result, Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with 42 percent of women aged 20 to 24 years married before coming of age.