21 December 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Declining Fertility Slows Population Growth'

POPULATION experts have attributed the slow growth rate of the country's population to declining fertility rate, a high death rate due to HIV and migration. The experts yesterday said the results were "within range" and there would be few changes to the final results expected next year.

Zimstat this week released preliminary results of the 2012 population census that showed that Zimbabwe's population continued to rise at an annual growth rate of 1,1 percent.

The population rose from 11,6 million in 2002 to nearly 13 million this year.

Population expert Dr Henry Chikova said the country's fertility rate had been declining since 1982.

"The fertility rate has been going down with education being the pervasive factor," he said.

"Women are now aware of various contraceptives.

"There is a positive link between education and income. The higher the income, the fewer the children."

Dr Chikova said the number of single mothers was higher than that of married women. "Most single mothers have sterner measures of birth control than those in proper marriages," he said.

Dr Chikova said the HIV scourge was also contributing to the slow growth rate of the population.

"It is undeniable that the HIV pandemic played a pivotal role in the slow growth rate," he said. "A number of people are dying from the disease though there are anti-retroviral drugs. Of course, the drugs came around 2002 to most of the people, but they have not done much on the death rate in terms of population."

Dr Chikova said Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West recorded an increase in the population because of the land reform programme.

"The areas have much farming activities and you will see that most people moved to those areas during land reform because they are highly productive," he said.

Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West had the highest growth rates of 1,7 percent.

Another population expert who refused to be named said migration had contributed to the decline in the population of Bulawayo.

Bulawayo's population declined from 676 650 in 2002 to 655 675.

"The decrease is as a result of people who were going to South Africa and Botswana for greener pastures," he said.

"It is also as a result of many companies that closed and forced people to migrate to cities like Harare to seek employment."

On census night on August 18, there were 12 973 808 people in Zimbabwe, with 6 234 931 males and 6 738 877 females.

Zimbabwe holds a census after every 10 years and during the national census in 2002, the country had 5,6 million males and six million females.

The country's new sex ratio of 93 males to every 100 females was down on the 2002 figure of 95 males for every 100.

The 2012 population constituted 3 076 222 households, leading to an average of 4,2 persons per household.

The household average of 4,2 people though implies strongly that birth rates have not risen noticeably since the 2002 census, suggesting that Zimbabwe is now headed for a period of slow growth and a fairly early attainment of stead state population.

Harare is the most populous province with 16 percent of the total population or just over two million people.

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