March 19th, 2018
No country in Africa will manage to reach the UN’s goal of ending childhood malnutrition by 2030.
A 15-year survey in which data were collected in a 5×5 sq. km grid pattern across the continent shows that, despite improvements in some areas, large disparities in childhood nutrition and education still exist within individual African countries. The often significant variations at the state and county level revealed by this survey were not captured in previous comparisons.
Data at this level of detail could serve as a valuable tool, directing resources to the communities that need them most. But unless such targeted assistance is accompanied by widely available family planning services, a large number of African children will continue to suffer the effects of malnutrition into 2030 and beyond.
Results from Kenya and Zambia show that serious government commitment and commensurate financing can lead to a substantial strengthening of contraceptive use. In contrast, countries such as Chad, the Central African Republic, Somalia, and much of the Sahel, that had experienced a lot of conflict and received little international aid, showed no progress in child and newborn health.
Africa’s total fertility rate is 88% higher than the world average, and consequently the number of children an African woman is likely to have in her lifetime remains elevated (4.7 children per woman in Africa versus 2.5 globally).
According to the UN’s latest revisions on the world’s population:
- The population of the African continent grew by 30 million people between 2015 and 2016 alone;
- Annual net growth in Africa will exceed 42 million people per year and the total population will have doubled to 2.4 billion by 2050. This amounts to 3.5 million more people per month — or 80 additional people per minute;
- Africa’s population growth will account for more than half of the world’s growth by 2050.
PIC believes that in addition to achieving educational targets and ending childhood malnutrition, the UN must also make it a priority to increase access to effective contraceptive use across Africa. This would be achieved by supporting ethical family planning programs suitable to local traditions.
All African leaders must make substantial investments in contraceptive information and access for their people; failure to do so in nations that are already economically strained will result in continued per capita declines in standards of living and will impede or set back achievements in childhood nutrition and education. Had targets in contraceptive use previously been set and reached, with a concomitant reduction in population growth rates, far more progress would already have been achieved in eradicating childhood malnutrition.