Kenya: Fertility Rate Low in Urban Areas, New Report Shows

(file photo).

Nairobi — New data in the latest economic survey report shows that Kenya's fertility rate has gone down, particularly in urban areas.

The total fertility rate for 2019 was 3.4 births which marks a drop of about one birth from 4.8 births in 2009.

According to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC) Analytical Report launched on Thursday, all the counties showed a decline in TFR between 2009-2019, except Marsabit, Mandera, and Wajir which showed an increase.

"The increase in TFR could be due to underreporting births and children born in the three counties," said the Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury, and Planning Ukur Yattani.

All the counties had a decline of between 10 and 40% except Nyeri, Kirinyagah, and Murang'a where the TFR declined by less than 10% implying the decline slowed in the three counties.

The analysis by place of residence showed that TFR remained higher in rural compared to urban areas.

On Lifetime fertility, the results revealed that the proportion of female teenagers age 15-19 with no child had increased from 77pc in 2009 to 90pc in 2019.

At the same time, women age 20-24 with no child increased since 2009 up from 35pc in 2009 to 46pc in 2019.

'The average parity among adolescents age 15-19 has been declining, an indication that teenage childbearing is on the decline. The trend was reflected among rural-urban adolescents, although the percentage is higher in urban than in rural."

While launching the report, CS Ukur noted the decline could be closely associated with several factors like increased female education, increased urbanization, contraceptive use, and the rise in age at first marriage.

The gap between the highest and lowest TFR continues to increase - which is lowest at 2.5 children in Nairobi and 8 children per woman in Mandera County.

High TFR of above 4 children per woman was mainly from Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) counties: Mandera 8, Marsabit 7, Wajir 6.7, Turkana6.4, Tana River 5.2, Samburu 4.9.

Fertility rates by education attainment showed that the age pattern of fertility for those women with primary education has not changed since 2009. The peak of childbearing for women with no education shifted, and according to the report this implied a decline I fertility among these women.

"Although teenage childbearing is still a problem for all women with various levels of educational attainment, the burden was found to be high among women with no education and those with informal /other education at 73 births and 95 births per thousand teenagers respectively," highlighted the report.

Over the last decade, the Crude Birth Rate - CBR (the number of live births per thousand persons in a given region for a particular year) has been declining in most African countries.

In Kenya the CBR fell gradually from about 50 births per 1000 population in the 1970's to 27.9 births in 2019.

CBR in the continent dropped from about 36 births per 1000population in 2009to 32 births in 2020 (UN- World Population Prospects, 2021).

In 2020, countries with the highest CBR were Niger with 48 births per 1000 inhabitants and Angola with 43 births for every 1000 population.

Countries with the lowest CBR were Mauritius, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia all with less than 20births in every 1,000.

The recommendations made towards the report include need to address child marriages and early child bearing, implementation of policies that promote education such as back to school policy for girls who fall pregnant, programs targeting ASAL regions to accelerate fertility decline, involving women in the nations development to reducing fertility levels among others.

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