Child marriages and teenage pregnancies are costing Uganda’s social-economic progress and are not conducive to the country’s wealth creation and prosperity, says the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
As the world commemorated World Population Day on Monday, experts and agencies gathered in the eastern Ugandan district of Kumi to assess the population challenges the country faces.
“Teenage pregnancy is a major health, a social and economic issue that has affected many young people, their families, communities, and countries globally,” said UNFPA Uganda Country Representative Mary Otieno during the event.
Ms. Otieno added that early childbearing had the potential to disrupt their development into adulthood.
“It impacts negatively their educational aspirations, livelihoods, health, and future social-economic productivity,” she further explained. “The households and communities are compelled to shoulder an extra burden in supporting the young mother and her child but also lose the dividends due to early motherhood intersecting with childhood.”
UNFPA figures show that in Uganda, by the age of 21, many young people, especially in rural areas, have had at least three children and lack the means to postpone or delay or stop any unintended or unwanted pregnancy.
Presiding over the population day commemoration, Ugandan Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja urged the public to take advantage of the existing government programmes to create wealth instead of marrying off young girls for bride price.
“Government does not support the practice of marrying off young girls who are supposed to be in school,” Mr. Nabbanja said.
The commemoration was held with the theme ‘Mindset change for wealth creation: Ending child marriage and teenage pregnancy.