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Birth control takes centre stage as world population hits 7bn

Source: Daily Nation
By EDITH FORTUNATE
Monday, October 31 2011
A few minutes after midnight Monday, little Bravo Mwangi Mugo was delivered into a crowded world whose population has just surpassed the seven billion mark.And as he cried while being weighed, his mother was happy that she has brought forth a second child.

Ms Rhoda Wanjiku, 28, delivered him at the Kenyatta National Hospital maternity ward, where he weighed 2.8 kilogrammes, was cleared as a healthy boy and added to the country’s and world’s population.

He was among the six children delivered at the health institution between midnight and 6am Monday.

Huge and worrying

But Bravo’s same cry was viewed by demographers and planners in Kenya as signalling a birth that brought the total to 41.6 million people.

Monday saw the world population hit the 7 billion mark, a number that is seen by demographers as very huge and worrying. Bravo is among the children who have contributed to the population increase up to this figure.

Bravo’s parents had already planned for him and ensured that there was proper spacing of their children. No wonder they welcomed the boy, who has a five-year-old sister.“My first born is five years old, and according to the planning I had with my husband, this was the right time to deliver. We are very ready for our child,” said Ms Wanjiku, who looked energetic despite having delivered a few hours before the interview with the Nation team.

“My husband and I have a chicken rearing business in Githurai and we also have a shop that sells chips in Kariobangi. Our monthly income is roughly Sh50,000. Since we also have our own three-bedroom house, it is easy for us to plan for our children.”

Ms Wanjiku said she is determined to do her best for Bravo since he was planned for.

Ms Wanjiku said she was on the pill and only stopped using it when she was ready to bring forth another child. She, however, said she experienced some side effects, a situation that will make her go for another birth control option.

Ms Jane Wanjiru is another Nairobi resident who delivered her fourth born child at around 1.30am Monday.

Ms Wanjiru lives in Kariobangi North. She and her husband run a food kiosk in the same area and get a monthly income of Sh10,000.

“I will have to work harder to ensure that we get enough for the four children that we planned to have and even spaced them accordingly” said Ms Wanjiru.She has been using the three-month injection contraception to space her children.

As the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the State of World Population Report: People and Possibilities in a World of 7 billion, there was a clear line that the use of family planning in Kenya is wanting.

Whereas educated women opt to plan their families, those with little or no education give birth to more children.

The National Coordinating Agency for Population Development needs to educate women on family planning.

For women like Ms Wanjiru, their only worry is whether their child will eat well, get good education and sustain themselves.

At the same time, Planning permanent secretary Edward Sambili told reporters that the country’s estimated 41.6 million people was a challenge to the country’s growth in economy.

“We are threatened by the way our population has continued to grow. Statistics show that we are now living longer (58 years or more), but inequalities still exist,” he said.

While launching a localised version of the world report, State of Kenya Population Report 2011, Dr Sambili said that the small number of Kenyans earning a reasonable living could mean that the Millennium Development Goals and the Vision 2030 may not be realised.“The more the mouths to feed, the less the share that everyone has to get, that means we have little to invest.”

In fact, the wealth, it emerged, is controlled by people aged over 55 years. This means that the country’s youth are the worst hit.

“Every year, 5000,000 youth enter the job market but poverty means they usually have to reside in urban slums, where infrastructure is virtually non-existent,” it says.

“A domineering feature of the youthful population in Kenya is poverty. Nearly half of Kenyans are living in poverty.”

However, UNFPA country representative Fidelis Zama Chi said Kenya could still balance its economic growth as long as proper measures are put in place.

PHOEBE OKALL | NATION Ms Rhoda Wanjiku with her new-born baby, Bravo Mwangi Mugo, at Kenyatta National Hospital maternity ward on October 31, 2011.

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