The State of World Population 2013
10 facts about adolescent pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa
1. More than 60 per cent of adolescents who wish to avoid pregnancy have an unmet need for
modern contraception. These adolescents, who do not use modern contraception or rely instead on
a traditional method of family planning, account for more than 80 per cent of unintended
pregnancies in this age group (UNFPA 2012a).
2. Of the 15 countries worldwide with a high prevalence (30 per cent or greater) of adolescent
pregnancy, 14 are found in Africa. One girl in 10 has a child before the age of 15 in Chad, Guinea,
Mali, Mozambique and Niger, countries where child marriage is common.
3. Today, one out of nine girls in developing countries is forced into marriage before age 15. In Chad
and Niger, more than one in three girls is married before her 15th birthday. In Ethiopia, one in six
girls is married by age 15.
4. Fewer than half the pregnant adolescents in Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger and Nigeria have received
any antenatal care from a skilled provider (Kothari et al., 2012) and even fewer delivered with the
help of a skilled attendant.
5. Among developing regions, West and Central Africa account for the largest percentage (6 per cent)
of reported births before age 15.
6. By 2030, almost one in four adolescent girls will live in sub-Saharan Africa where the total number
of adolescent mothers under 18 is projected to rise from 10.1 million in 2010 (2 million adolescent
births per year) to 16.4 million in 2030 (3.3 million adolescent births per year).
7. Births to girls under age 15 are projected to nearly double in the region in the next 17 years, from
2 million a year today to about 3 million a year in 2030.
8. Physically immature first-time mothers are particularly vulnerable to prolonged, obstructed labour,
which may result in obstetric fistula. Studies in Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Nigeria show that about
one in three women living with obstetric fistula reported developing it as an adolescent.
9. The region accounts for 44 per cent of all unsafe abortions among adolescents between the ages
of 15 and 19 in the developing world (excluding East Asia).
10. Girls who remain in school for longer are less likely to become pregnant. In francophone African
countries, between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of girls leave school—or are expelled—because of
pregnancy (Lloyd and Mensch, 2008). “Union formation”—first marriage or cohabitation—is more
likely to be the reason.