The Increasing Teenage Pregnancy Wahala in the English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon: Are We Missing the Red Flags?

MaryAnn Mbangsi, Larinette Enandem, Farida Nsangou, Clotilda Andiensa

 In November 2016, riots began in the North and South West Regions of Cameroon. These riots were started by teachers and lawyers demanding fairer treatment anglophone Cameroonians and respect of anglophone values. These protests were not well handled by the government and the whole anglophone regions have gone down in disorder. Schools have been ineffective since then and many children have dropped out of school. Businesses have also been affected, leaving behind a community where young people just stay at home and do nothing. As it is said, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. The idle minds of kids may well be showing some signs of the devil’s workshop.

The North West Region had pride itself not only in its good educational, judicial and business outcomes but also in good health outcomes. However, health outcomes seem to be rapidly changing for the worst.

We sought to find out how girls who were not able to return to school were faring at home and report this as an impact of existing political crises.

We had discussions with young girls and boys in and out of schools. We also had discussions with their parents. We further discussed with school directors and hospital directors. Based on preliminary findings we looked into health district statistics for unplanned pregnancies.

In these series of blogs, we will use real-life stories to report the impact of the political unrest on the lives of young girls in the anglophone regions of Cameroon.

We report that several girls will not be returning to schools; several teenagers now walk on the streets selling goods to fend for themselves and their families; there is an increase in the incidence of teenage pregnancies. In one health district – the Bali health district where unplanned pregnancy incidence was low and family planning uptake was high– there documented cases of unplanned pregnancies weekly. The exact statistic is not yet known. In other health districts like Batibo and Mamfe, life is far from normal, ANC clinics, vaccination programs, and other health programs have been fragmented as families have been internally or externally displaced and healthcare workers are also insecure.

For these girls, what will become of their education? Will their health bills cripple their families? How do they cope with the stigma of an early pregnancy out of marriage?

We will through the real-life stories try to explore if these waving red flags are being noticed by governments, communities, development agencies or other stakeholders? We will explore through real lives how young girls are coping. We will seek to propose immediate solutions while waiting for the system to normalize.