Sasa Mama Teen: Strong Minds for Stronger Adolescent Mothers in Nairobi Slums

Project Period

May 2018 - October 2019

Nairobi’s informal settlements are home to nearly six in 10 of the megacity’s young population, a number that is only growing. Characterized by abject poverty, overcrowding, lack of access to clean water, violence, and increasing unemployment rate, these slums are a vector for high exposure to adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes. About 41% of adolescent girls living in Nairobi’s informal settlements have experienced a pregnancy, nearly half of which are unintended.

Most of the public health facilities in Nairobi slums do not have skilled personnel or the basic equipment needed to provide quality maternal and child health information and services. In the facilities that do exist, perinatal mental health is usually not prioritized due to other competing health challenges that require urgent attention—Kenya’s existing mental health and adolescent sexual and reproductive health policies are silent on maternal mental health. Therefore, the mental health and wellbeing of these teenage mothers is constantly under threat.

The project aims to address the unmet maternal mental health needs of adolescent mothers in the main slums of Nairobi through an innovative co-creation initiative to jointly design and test feasibility of a toolkit of information, skill and confidence building and coping mechanisms that may effectively shield them and their peers against the risks of mental stress during pregnancy and early motherhood. It is also hoped that the project will provide new evidence on adolescent maternal mental health that may help inform revisions of Kenya’s policies.


  • Start: May 2018
  • End: October 2019


  •  Grand Challenges Explorations


  • Estelle Monique Sidze – Principal Investigator
  • Elizabeth Kimani-Murage – Co-Investigator
  • Caroline Wainaina – Research Officer


  • Mum, Baby and Love


Presentation: Sasa mama teen project