By JANE CHEROTICH and KENEDDY OKWATCH
Busia, Kenya: Leaders in the County government of Busia have been urged to support family planning programmes and promote male involvement in reproductive health services.
This is to create awareness in the community about family planning since the population growth rate is currently alarming.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Principal of Communication officer Reuben Olita, Busia governor Sospeter Ojaamong stressed that the country’s rapid population growth rate and youthful population structure are some of the key issues that will pose major challenges to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and vision 2030.
He regretted that there has been high fertility coupled with high unmet needs for family planning methods in the county for a long time.
“This has resulted in an increase in the number of street urchins, abandoned and neglected children, exploitation and inappropriate medical care for the children which poses a major challenge in development matters,” he said.
The governor called on parents in the county to seek improved health services and consider birth spacing in a bid to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in the county.
“Low male involvement in reproductive health and family planning programmes and high level of adolescent fertility partly contribute to early marriages and polygamy,” Ojaamong said.
This emerged Thursday during a one day media dissemination workshop in Busia town on Population Policy for National Development, organised by the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD).
Assistant Director of Population Moses Ouma said the total fertility rate nationally has declined from 4.9 births per woman in 2003 to 4.6 births per woman in 2009, according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS). But Busia county’s stands at 10.6, 6.0 per cent above the national one.
“This region and Kenya as a whole have challenges and emerging issues that include the persistent regional socio-economic disparities in fertility, family planning use and high mortality rates,” Ouma said.
He said individuals should adopt small family norms to address further challenges such as unmet family needs. Busia County Chief Nursing Officer Assumpta Matekwa said only one in five currently married women aged 15-19 are using modern contraception.
“The average woman in Busia gives birth to 5.6 to 4.6 children and 26 per cent of these women have unmet needs for contraception despite the fact that 89 per cent have the knowledge of contraception,” she said.
Meanwhile the county is facing an impending food shortage in coming years owing to exhausted soils that lack nutrients and minerals that are suitable for farming.
A survey carried out by Soilcares Kenya in 170 farms indicates that the county has poor soils with low fertility rate that is unfitting for food farming. The survey, which tested 1,200 samples from different sub locations in the border county shows that overuse of soils, wrong fertiliser applications, poor farming habits and over reliance on inorganic fertiliser is the main reason of the poor state of the soils.
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Anja Weber, the manager of Soilcares Kenya, said the results from the sample show that soils in the county are in bad state and cannot sustain food production for the next two years.