DESPITE continued efforts to reduce early pregnancies in Zimbabwe, data shows that adolescent girls between 10 and 15 years are falling pregnant and giving birth largely due to harmful practices that include early child marriages and sexual abuse.
By Michael Gwarisa
Disaggregated data on the Distribution of Births by Age of Mother released during the launch of the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) Vital Statistics Report shows that 696 girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth in 2022.
A total of 69,335 adolescent females aged 10 to 19 had live births 12 months preceding the census night.A total of 439,458 live births were recorded during 12 months preceding the census night, of which 27.6 percent (120,542) were by women aged 20 to 24,” said Mr Taguma Mahonde, the Zimstat Director General.
The Age Specific Fertility Rates (ASFR) by Age Group was highest at 178.4 live births per 1,000 women in the 20–24 year age group. According to the Vital Strategies Report, 120,542 women aged 20 to 24 years gave birth during the period under review followed by 25 to 29 year old who had 95, 170, whereas 30 to 34year olds had 74, 202. Those aged 35 to 39 were 56, 036 and the 40 to 44 age group had 18, 471 women giving birth while the 45 to 49 recorded 2, 475.
15 to 19 year olds constitute 86.7 percent to the national birth rate. A total of 435,735 live births were reported in the last 12 months preceding the census against a national level crude birth rate of 28.7 live births per 1,000 population.
A separate Zimst fertility preliminary report showed that Mashonalnd Central recorded the highest birth crude birth rate of 32.7.
“ASFR was higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. In rural areas, fertility peaked, at 212 live births per 1,000 women in the 20–24 year age group, In urban areas, it peaked, at 144.7 live births per 1,000 women in the 25–29 year age group.”
At the national level, Total Fertility Ratio (TFR) was 3.7 children per woman. Mash Central: 4.4; Manicaland: 4.2; Mat North: 3.6; Mat South: 3.5; Harare: 2.9; Bulawayo: 2.4. In 2012, the TFR was 3.8 children per woman. TFR was higher in rural areas 4.2 children per woman compared to urban areas 2.8 children per woman.
“At a national level, median age at first live birth was 20 years. In Rural areas, the median age at first live birth was 19 years while in urban areas 21 years. In 2012 at national level, the median age at first live birth was 21 years,” said Mr Mahonde.
Meanwhile, Mashonaland Central had the highest proportion of women who got married before attaining the age of 15; 2.2 percent. The proportion of registered births was: Masvingo 35.1 percent, Bulawayo: 27.9 percent, Harare: 15.2 percent and Mash Central: 14.7 percent.