Kenya's population has doubled over the past 25 years and is set to keep rising. Based on the latest UN estimates, the current population of Kenya is 50.9 million people.
This has been attributed to the high fertility rate, high life expectancy and decline in mortality as a result of improved healthcare. The UN projects that the population will grow by around 1 million every year, and will reach around 90 million by 2051, if no measures are taken to check the rapid population growth.
The problem with rapid population growth and high fertility rate is that they hurt economic development. Uncontrolled population has led to poverty, unemployment, insecurity, environment pollution, high dependency ratio, inadequate health facilities, overcrowding, decline in land quality and in per capita food consumption.
With an economic growth that increases by about one per cent yearly, Kenya is already grappling with its high population growth. With limited economic resources, it has become difficult for the government to adequately provide social amenities for its citizens, such as food, shelter, proper education and healthcare facilities. Close to 50 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.
It is clear that we are having a negative economic development, which needs to change. To achieve sustainable development, our economic growth needs to outpace its population growth. Kenya has no option but to invest more in family planning, which is considered the main policy instrument for stabilising rapid population growth.
Today is World Population Day, and this year's theme is “Family planning is a human right”. It's 50 years now after the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where for the first time, family planning was globally affirmed to be a human right. The conference’s outcome document, known as the Tehran Proclamation, stated unequivocally: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children”.
As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking the day, the Health ministry, county governments and health service providers must implement all the nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning. They must ensure family planning is available, acceptable and accessible to everyone, family planning information and services is free from discrimination and is of good quality, family planning services are offered with privacy and confidentiality, and all health systems, policy makers and other leaders are accountable to the people they serve in all efforts to realise the human right to family planning.
To achieve Vision 2030 goals and other goals this country has set, Kenya needs to reach the more than a quarter of women with unmet needs for family planning. The constitution under guarantees provision of family planning to all people. Therefore, we are actually violating the rights of these women who want to prevent pregnancy but cannot find and use any contraceptive.