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Why Uhuru is worried by single parent households in Kenya

As his second and final five-year term of office draws closer to an end, President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed concern over the issue of single parents in the country.

Speaking on Wednesday when he presided over the 59th Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, the president noted that the percentage of single parents households in the country has risen from 25 per cent in 2009 to 38 per cent.

“Families headed by single parents rose from 25 per cent in 2009 to 38 per cent. If unchecked, this trend shall destroy the fundamental character of Kenya and reap untold harm onto our most vulnerable and precious members: our children,” President Kenyatta said.

As a result, the president challenged the community and religious leaders to ensure the family unit remains the strong and respected institution that it has historically been.

According to a 2012 Pan-African study by two Canadian sociologists, Kenya has one of the highest numbers of children born out of wedlock on the continent. The survey found that every Kenyan woman has a 59.5 per cent chance of being a single mother by the age of 45 years, either through pre-marital birth or dissolution of a union. The findings also established that about 30 per cent of women in Kenya give birth before they are married.

A 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey also placed the national teenage pregnancy rate in the country at 18 per cent, with about 15 per cent of all adolescent women having given birth.

A Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey of 2015/16 reported that 32.4 per cent of households in the country are headed by females. This means that there is a great number of women raising blended families.