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Kenya's fertility rate going down as population to hit 70m by 2050

 Fertility has declined by nearly half for over four decades. [iStockphoto]

The country has registered a decline in fertility levels, a new report shows.

The annual United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) report released on Friday says fertility has declined by nearly half for over four decades.

It says that in 1979, the fertility rate stood at 7.9 children per woman, but had dropped to 3.4 children by last year.

According to the report, although the fertility level declined, the population has continued to grow from 10.9 million in 1969 to 47.6 million in 2019. It is projected to grow to 70 million in 2050.

UNPF produces an annual State of the World Population (Swop) report, highlighting the current and emerging population issues at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels. It also gives recommendations.

Even as the fertility rate declines, the report says this varies by region and socioeconomic factors.

For example, most counties in North Eastern and Northern regions continue to register high fertility. Mandera recorded a fertility rate of 7.7 while Wajir had 6.8. In West Pokot, a woman is, on average, likely to have 6.9 children.

The report calls for a radical rethink of how population numbers are framed.

It also advises that family planning be encouraged as a tool for achieving fertility targets and empowering individuals.

National Council for Population and Development Director General Mohamed Sheikh said this year’s theme Swop report focuses on shifting demographics, how to tackle population alarmism and what the future holds for the people and the planet.

The report also highlighted the youth bulge and its implication on the country’s future, rapid increase in the number of persons living beyond 60 years.

Persistence of gender-based violence, urban migration and implications of climate change on countries' efforts to achieve sustainable development are also highlighted.

Additionally, the report advises Kenya to undertake education on population and sustainable development.

It also calls for the improvement of health infrastructure in the Northern and North Eastern counties to improve maternal health, which should be coupled with heightened campaigns on population management.

Economic Planning PS James Muhatia urged all the relevant institutions to embrace and implement the recommendations

“I wish to call upon all relevant government agencies in collaboration with stakeholders to acquaint themselves with the population anxiety contained in this report and design appropriate interventions to address them in order to accelerate the achievements of our development aspirations,’’ he said in a speech read by Acting Economic Planning Secretary, Timothy Gakuo.

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