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UN: Kenya needs to manage population

17 July 2013, 09:47

Nairobi - The UN on Tuesday urged Kenya to manage its population growth so as to reduce the level of poverty in the country.

Speaking to the media in Nairobi, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Acting Kenya Country Representative Dr Benjamin Alli said that governments cannot adequately plan when the population expands rapidly.

"Kenya should therefore accelerate efforts to implement interventions that will ensure the country achieves a sustainable population growth," Alli said during a ceremony to celebrate Kenya as a recipient of the Global Resolve Award in honor of the country's 2012 National Population Policy for National Development.

The policy was adopted by Kenya's Parliament in 2012, after extensive consultation with all stakeholders. The new policy was meant to update the National Population Policy for Sustainable Development of 2000.

He noted that Kenya has one of the highest population growth rates in the African continent. "The country should therefore reduce its population growth rate which currently stands at three percent annually," the UNFPA official said.

He noted that one of the most effective ways to manage population is through introduction of a family planning program.

"Studies also indicate that if you educate girls, they tend to have less children," he said.

World Health Organization Focal Person for Population and Reproduction Dr Joyce Lavussa said that population growth is a developmental issue.

"If properly managed, it can lead to an increase in incomes as well as improvement of quality of life," Lavussa said.

"We will therefore continue to extend technical support to Kenya, so that it achieve the goals of its national economic blue print, Vision 2030," she said

Cabinet Secretary for Planning Ann Waiguru said that the government has recognized that population management is key to the realization of socio-economic development.

Waiguru added that Kenya's second Medium Term Plan which runs from 2013 to 2017 has also prioritized population management.

"Population expansion should be at a rate that can be sustained with the resources available," she said.

According to the cabinet secretary, high fertility rates have over a long period of time contributed to Kenya's youthful population structure.

National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) Director General Dr Boniface K'Oyugi said that Kenya's National Population Policy recognizes the role that family planning and reproductive health plays in national development.

"A well-managed population growth will free up resources for investments required to accelerate the national development agenda, " he said. He noted that Kenya is currently in the midst of a demographic transition.

"While mortality rates have declined substantial, fertility rates are almost stagnant," K'Oyugi said. He noted that Kenya's population currently increases at a rate of one million people per year.

"So, at the current growth rate, Kenya's population is expected to reach 77 million in 2030," the director general said.

According to the NCPD, one of the implications of a high population growth rate has been a large increase in the population under the age of 25.

The Director General said that life expectancy at birth has been on the decline since 1984 when it stood at 64 years. "The impact of the HIV epidemic has resulted in a life expectancy reducing to 57 years," he said.

State Department of Planning, Economic Planning Secretary Stephen Wainaina said that Kenya experienced high fertility levels in the 1970s. "However, the figure has declined from an average of 7.9 children per woman to 4.6 currently," Wainaina said.

He noted that contraceptive use among married women has moved from 17 percent to 39 percent in 2012.

Speaker of Senate Ekwee Ethuro said that the Senate will be at the fore front of the population management agenda. "We will ensure that there is enhanced budgetary allocation for population programs," he said. 


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