parents wanting three or more children, the United Nations and the Kenyan
government want them to lower their expectations.
A 300-page "Kenya Population Situation Analysis" -- sponsored by the
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Kenyan government -- states that
many Kenyan women have unmet needs for family planning services. Moreover, it
cites a more fundamental problem with high fertility rates in the African
nation: Women want more children than the UN and the Kenyan government deem
desirable for the country's development.
"The demand for children is still high and is unlikely to change unless
substantial changes in desired family sizes are achieved among the poor in
general," the report states. "... [T]hus the challenge is how to
reduce the continued high demand for children."
UN efforts to discourage population growth in many regions aren't new, but the
Kenya report doesn't just call for broader access to birth control; it faults
Kenyans -- particularly the poor -- for desiring larger families.
Kenya's population exploded from an estimated 10.9 million people in 1969 to
more than 41 million today. The country's per capita income has grown threefold
during the last 35 years, but the poverty level remains as high as 42 percent.
Higher populations create strains on depressed economies and challenges for
communities struggling with steady access to basic necessities like food and
Still, fertility rates in Kenya have declined since the 1980s. The average
number of children per woman in Kenya dropped from 8 to 4.5 in the last 30
But the UN and the Kenyan government want that number to drop more. The report
sets a goal of 2.6 children per woman by 2030.
Kenyan women, however, have consistently expressed a desire for more children.
The report noted women in 1993 expressed the ideal number of children at 3.5.
In 2009, that number hadn't changed.
While the report doesn't call for the kind of government-enforced quotas that
the Chinese government has imposed on its citizens for more than 30 years, it
does recommend "education" efforts to persuade Kenyans to have fewer
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