Urbanization is an inevitable trend. It takes place at different rates and in distinct places. According to UN Habitat , In developing countries, over 880 Million urban residents live in slum conditions. In Sub Saharan Africa, 59 percent of the urban population live in slums and by 2050, African urban dwellers are projected to increase to 1.2 Billion. Africa is not ready for this level of urban population explosion.
“Residents of Africa’s urban informal settlement represent one population group that is increasingly left behind and at elevated risks for poor sexual and reproductive health and rights outcomes.
For instance, across Africa, unintended pregnancy is among the leading reasons that urban adolescents girls drop out of school. ” Said Dr. Uwemedimo Esiet, Director, Action Health Incorporated, Nigeria
Dr. Esiet spoke yesterday during a media interaction session and launch of the 9th African Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ACSRHR), at Sheraton Hotel Nairobi.
He urged journalists to increase reportage of sexual and reproductive health issues that affect women and girls living in urban informal settlements such as; unsafe abortions, maternal mortality and morbidity, sexual and gender based violence, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDs, unmet need for family planning, harmful traditional practices and early sexual debut, among others.
He further underscored the impact of these issues on the economic outcomes for Africa.
The draft Maputo Plan of Action 2016-2030 notes the need for investing in SRH needs of adolescents, by improving access to and uptake of quality information and services for youth, that also includes family planning through provision of quality integrated youth friendly services.
“We know, you have challenges that you grapple with while covering SRHR stories, reach out to us. We will gladly help you, wherever possible” Reassured Jane Godia, Acting Executive Director, African Gender and Media Initiative (GEM).
Indeed, journalists mentioned of challenges they face while covering SRHR stories including cultural restrictions, respondents fearing stigma, cost of production, sensitivity of some stories and restrictive laws especially on abortion.
Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services result in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Africa is the world region with the highest number of abortion related deaths. In 2014, at least 9% of maternal deaths in Africa were from unsafe abortion. In 2017, about 58 Million women of reproductive age recorded an unmet need for modern contraception.
“Addressing the inequalities of women and girls in these informal settlements across Africa is key to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the AU Agenda 2063. As journalists, you have a significant role of bringing attention to these issues for governments and respective institutions to act”. Concluded Godia
Africa’s population is the youngest and fastest growing in the world. Young people aged 10-24 years currently constitute about a third of the region’s population. The number of youth in the region is expected to grow as fertility rates remain high.
A growing proportion of the urban population are young people born and living in resource-constrained urban slums or who migrate to urban areas in search of opportunities. These urban youth live in an environment that offers limited education and employment opportunities, as well as inadequate housing, health, and social services. The result is an impoverished urban youth population with extremely high rates of unemployment and low educational attainment.
The future of Africa depends on its ability to harness the potential of its young people. Making the right investments in youth – particularly those in urban areas – can enable the region to experience substantial economic growth and sustainable national development for current and future generations (i.e. capitalizing on the Demographic
About the conference;
The 9th Conference on Sexual Health and Rights is a part of long term process of building and fostering regional dialogue/alliance on SRH that leads to concrete actions and enhances stake-holder capacity to influence policy and programming in favor of a sexually healthy conference.
The conference will be held on 12-14 February 2020, in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme ‘Advancing the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women and girls in urban informal settlements’