Is Tanzania’s fertility rate increase a welfare concern?

Dear InformAfrica reader, in your opinion, how many children should African parents really have? Comments are open below...

InformAfrica – Tanzania’s fertility rate increase is raising concern, with experts stating that the east African country’s population boom may in fact affect the overall welfare of the people – increasing poverty, InformAfrica have gathered.

Tanzania's total fertility rate welfare concern

Total Fertility rate is the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age. Total fertility rate is a huge indicator for the potential for population change in a country. (Source: WorldBank)

The total fertility rate on the graph above shows that over the span of 45 years the total fertility rate of Tanzania went down 1.4 children. By 2005, the number is still fairly high at 5.4 children per woman. According to WorldBank data, this number is still very much over the replacement rate. The replacement rate is two children per woman, and rates that are 2 children or higher mean the population will still be growing in size.

Sylvester Domasa on IPP Media reports that participants to a recent reproductive health seminar held in Tanzania have called for more efforts to address the country’s increasing population and its impact on economic development.

Prof Sam Maghimbi, University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Demographic Expert told participants that the increasing fertility rate in the country signified what he believes to be ‘development setbacks’ from family to national level.

Increased fertility rate slow efforts towards poverty reduction and the attainment of set Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he argued.

“For the economy to grow, the standard of living among citizens needs also to improve. Statistics indicate improvements in economic growth, yet standards of living have been decreasing thanks to high population…” he pointed out.

Currently, the country is experiencing 6.7 percent increase in fertility rate for rural women and 3.7 percent for urban women. However this means that every day the country loses a single mother due to child birth.

Prof Maghimbi said that only through promoting women as active agents for social change and not victims thereof, would the community lower its fertility rate.

Dr Cosmas Sokoni feels that the adoption of family planning techniques to curb population growth is undermined by male chauvinistic cultural tendencies that are very much alive in our modern communities. He painted an ugly portrait of reality listing what, in his expert opinion, the causes of the population explosion as illiteracy, use of force and misguided perceptions.

Total fertility rate represents the number of children that would be born to a woman if she were to live to the end of her childbearing years. This indicator shows the potential for population change in the country.

Tanzania's projected fertility rate stats

This graph shows the projected total fertility rate between the years 2005 and 2100. The rate starts fairly high at 5.4, in 2005. At each five year span the fertility rate continues to go down. In 2045, we see the fertility rate go under the replacement rate for the first time ever. It continues to stay under the replacement rate, at 1.8, until the year 2100. (Source: International Future Database).

Data from the index-mundi site that contains detailed country statistics, charts, and maps compiled from multiple sources, explain that, a rate of two children per woman is considered the replacement rate for a population, resulting in relative stability in terms of total numbers. Rates above two children indicate populations growing in size and whose median age is declining. Higher rates may also indicate difficulties for families, in some situations, to feed and educate their children and for women to enter the labour force.

Rates below two children indicate populations decreasing in size and growing older. Global fertility rates are in general decline and this trend is most pronounced in industrialised countries, especially Western Europe, where populations are projected to decline dramatically over the next 50 years.

In many cases, African parents would want to have lots of children in order to ensure that they would have help when it comes down to raising funds, labor and agriculture. Having several children does require more resources which can be sometimes difficult to provide if one is already poor.

Yes, Tanzania’s fertility rate is indeed a welfare concern in the society and could affect the growth of the economy. High fertility rates can drive people further into poverty. In most western countries, majority of the families are well planned and made up of four or five which includes the parents and 2-3 children; this ensures that the parents have the resources needed to raise their children to proper standards.

Dear InformAfrica reader, in your opinion, how many children should African parents really have?

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