Friday, March 4, 2016

‘Pregnancy Has Its Advantages’: The Voices of Street Connected Children and Youth in Eldoret, Kenya

Little is known about the reproductive health or family planning needs of street-connected children and youth in resource-constrained countries. The study objective was to describe how street-connected children and youth (SCCY) in Eldoret, Kenya, perceive pregnancy.

This qualitative study was conducted between August 2013 and February 2014. A total of 65 SCCY aged 11–24 years were purposively sampled from the three referral points: 1) A dedicated study clinic for vulnerable children and youth at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH); 2) Primary locations in which street children reside known as “bases/barracks”; and 3) Street youth community-based organizations. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were audio recorded, transcribed, and translated into English. Content analysis was performed after thematic coding by 4 independent coders.

The majority of SCCY interviewed were male (69%) and sexually active (81.5%). None had gone beyond primary level of education. The strong desire for SCCY to go through conventional life experiences including marriage and child bearing was evident. Sub-themes around desired pregnancies included: sense of identity with other SCCY, sense of hope, male ego, lineage, source of income, and avoiding stigmatization. The desire for children was highly gendered with male SCCY more focused on their social status in the street community, while for females it was primarily for survival on the street. Female SCCY generally lacked agency around reproductive health issues and faced gender-based violence. Abortions (either assisted or self-induced), infanticide, and child abandonment were reported. Respondents described a lucrative market for babies born to SCCY and alleged that healthcare workers were known to abduct these babies following hospital deliveries.

Our findings indicate gender differences in the reasons why SCCY become pregnant and have children. We also noted gender inequalities in reproductive health decisions. SCCY friendly interventions that provide tailored reproductive health services are needed.

Full article at:

Juddy Wachira, Violet Naanyu, Paula Braitstein 
Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), Eldoret, Kenya

Allan Kamanda 
Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, Kenya

Lonnie Embleton, Paula Braitstein 
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Violet Naanyu, David Ayuku, Paula Braitstein 
College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya

Paula Braitstein 
Indiana University, Fairbanks School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America

Paula Braitstein 
Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America

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