Key information on Adolescents in West and Central Africa

Key information on Adolescents in West and Central Africa

 In West and Central Africa, Adolescents constitute 23 per cent of the population in 2018, which is the highest proportion of any region.

 As they transition from childhood to adulthood, adolescents acquire the physical, cognitive, emotional, social and economic resources that serve as the foundation for health and well-being later in life.

 But this is also a vulnerable period in which girls and boys are exposed to new risks. It is a period in which gender norms consolidate, often to the disadvantage of girls.

 The onset of puberty can be a signal for constraining girls’ movement, schooling, sexuality and life exposure.

Adolescent girls in regions like West Africa also face social pressures to marry and bear children, jeopardizing their ability to acquire the education and resources needed for adulthood and resulting in lifelong consequences for girls, their children and their communities.


 The adolescent birth rate is also highest among the poorest households in all countries in the region.

 Pregnant adolescent girls experiencing their first pregnancy, need for careful monitoring.

 However, coverage of maternal health indicators, including contact with the health system, are lower among adolescents than older women in some countries in West Africa.

 Fertility rate: In 2018, the estimated adolescent birth rate globally was 44 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19;

 In West and Central Africa, this figure stood at 115 births, the highest regional rate in the world.

 Maternal conditions are the top cause of mortality among girls aged 15-19 globally

 Pregnancy during adolescence can impact a girl for the rest of her life, adversely affecting her health and undermining her schooling and economic status.

Sources 1: WHO. Global health estimates 2015: deaths by cause, age, sex, by country and by region, 2000–2015 Geneva; 2016.

Source 2:


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