When the Government Tells You How Many Kids to Have

Population Control in Kenya
(Photo : Population Research Institute)
Family Planning Targets Through 2050

The Kenyan government thinks women in the country want to have too many babies and apparently, the U.N. agrees. This week, the Population Research Institute (PRI) issued a report that Kenya's National Council for Population and Development has issued two white papers, outlining their plans to "radically reduce the number of children that Kenyan women desire."

In the early 1980's, the average woman in Kenya had 8 children. Over the past 30 years, fertility rates have fallen by 44% to 4.5 children, but this fall has not been enough for the Kenyan National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) or the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which work closely together. In the two governmental (white) papers, the Kenyan government, in conjunction with the UNFPA, set the goal to reduce fertility by an additional 42% to 2.6 children per woman by the year 2030.

The first white paper is "supported by the United Nations Population Fund," and states that "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... Thus the challenge is how to reduce further the continued high demand for children."

Both papers admit that knowledge of modern contraceptive methods is "virtually universal at 97%," and that access to (U.S.-supplied) drugs and devices is not the problem. Cost and access aren't the problem. Less than 2% of Kenyan women say that either is their reason for not using contraception. They simply want more children than the government things they should have.

The government wants ot assign "numerical targets on family size."

In a press release, PRI President Steven Mosher shared his outrage at the potential changes, stating, "The new policy is insulting to women. The Kenyan government, urged on by the UNFPA and USAID, is asserting that the women of Kenya should not be allowed to make their own decisions regarding how many children to have, and need to be re-educated into rejecting large families. Such open targets for births and contraceptive acceptors are a clear violation of the Tiahrt Amendment. Congress ought to investigate."

The Tiahrt Amendment prohibits U.S. financial aid from going towards any coercive population control programs. Last year, the U.S. gave over $30 million to the United Nations Population Fund, which is one of the architects of the new Kenyan program. The majority of USAID's direct aid to Kenya goes to the same purpose. For every dollar spent on nutrition, USAID spends $183 dollars on contraception.

Tags : Kenya

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