By George Emuron
The out break of the Covid-19 pandemic has had great impacts not only on the economy but also on people’s social lives including teenagers who were forced out of schools due to the lock down that was meant to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
The lock down has seen a bigger percentage of girls getting pregnant in this period according to recent reports from different parts of the country with Westnile region recording the biggest numbers.
The office of the probation officer in Bukedea district has registered a total of 730 teenage pregnancy cases within Kidongole Sub County in Bukedea district.
The corona virus lock down without the support system of teachers and school administrators, many girls have been left vulnerable to teenage pregnancy, early childhood marriage and gender-based violence, among other devastating effects of Covid-19.
Emmanuel Elimu the district senior probation officer, Bukedea said within this lock down period, his office has registered 730 teenage pregnancies particular in one mother sub county of Kidongole which compresses of Kidongole, Koena sub county before the creation of the new administrative units.
According to Emmanuel Elimu,, the numbers were registered according to the official records of those have either reported to police or those who have gone to seek for antenatal care at the health facilities.
“In our office so far we have managed to register 730 and those are the once who have been reported, but I think the number will go beyond that because they are those who have not been reported anywhere,” Mr. Elimu said.
Mr. Elimu revealed that the district is set to conduct community sensitization with other support staff to ensure that the community is sensitized on how to end teenage pregnancy.
“The office of probation so far has limited funds which is to be used to reach the community, but as a district we have come up with a plan to hold a meeting with the stake holders as to ensure that the aspect of the teenage pregnancy comes to an end in Kidongole Sub County,” he said.
Samuel Okurut the chairperson LCIII Kidongole sub county attributes the rise in teenage pregnancy in his sub county to the covid-19 lock down, mindset of some parents to reject performing their responsibilities of helping their girls.
“I am so worried on how my sub county is going to come out of this situation, this number is high yet these girls are still at school, even their men are still poor, my sub county is going to suffer with challenges of child to child headed families,” said Mr. Okurut.
Okurut therefore on his remark urged the government to look upon on how to help the youth in Kidongole sub county other wises the sub county is going on mesh.
Hajji Ramathan Walugembe the RDC Bukedea said the district is set to establish how to fight against the teenage marriage in the district.
In Uganda, as with many other countries around the world, Covid-19 has resulted in an increased rate of teenage pregnancy. In order to gain basic necessities like sanitary towels, girls have engaged in transactional sex with men who take advantage of their need for money.
“Having been impregnated, this has not only ruined my future but also the trust that my parents had in me,” says Jane, who is facing a pregnancy at just 14 years old. Now, she finds herself out of school and afraid for her future.
The country has also recorded teenage pregnancy cases in other districts like, Kotido, Ngora, Kyegegwa, Kasese and Lyantonde with more than 3,000 teenage pregnancies during this lock down.
Adding to the burden, many girls are are abandoned by the ones responsible and find themselves having to be the breadwinners of their families.
Teenage pregnancies, among other risk factors, are adding to the number of girls who are not in school. Even before Covid-19, there were 98 million adolescent girls worldwide who were not in school and research suggests the pandemic could add an additional 20 million.
Incidence of early-childhood marriage is also on the rise as poverty caused by the pandemic has forced families to marry off their daughters to help alleviate financial burdens. In Uganda, at least 128 school-age girls have been married off in the Kyegegwa, Rakai, Kamira Sub-county, Luweero District alone.
In addition to early marriage, many girls are also having to enter the workforce at a young age to help provide for their families. In some communities, girls are also forced to take on much of the domestic work at home, keeping them from seeing their friends and joining community-building activities.