- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
Kenyan women are having the lowest number of children in East Africa, equaling to smaller family sizes, according to World Population Data prepared by US-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB), showing progress in calls for smaller family sizes as a socio-economic tool for better allocation of family resources.
The report shows the fertility rate and average births per woman at four children in the past two years which has remained constant having dropped from five children in 2008.
Kenya fertility rate of 3.9, is below Africa’s average of 4.6 for every woman. However, the number is still high with the global average of 2.5.
These statistics are a shifted among various where Burundi tops the list with a fertility rate of 5.5, or nearly six children for every woman, followed by Uganda (5.4), Tanzania (5.2), Ethiopia (4.6), Rwanda (4.2).”
This is an indication that Kenyan women may be heeding calls by global policy shapers, including the United Nations, for smaller family sizes as a socio-economic tool for better allocation of family resources.
However the Kenyan population is expected to nearly double in the next three decades to 96m in 2050 from 49 m today with this growth, especially of the workforce, this could serve as a key economic engine if tapped and put to productive use but could also be a big source of pain if left untapped.
Former World Bank’s lead economist for Kenya, Wolfgang Fengler, is quoted saying that the driver of Kenyan population ceased to be driven by having more children in 2000.
“The high fertility rates in the past has increased the number of families, therefore, there are more families so even if the number of children has dropped the total number of births continues to grow,” he said.
He said the demographic change is due to a drop in life expectancy, therefore, a decline in birth rate hasn’t contributed to the decrease in the rate of population growth.
“Following this the working-age population segment is expected to grow much faster than that of the young and elderly population group, reducing dependency,” he said.
According to Maxwell Okoth a health practitioner, families have been driven to have fewer children due to hard economic times and an increase in the cost of living.