Solve the Demographic Crisis in Nigeria Now – Family Planning Experts warn govt

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The government has been cautioned by family planning experts against Ignoring Nigeria’s imminent demographic crisis, saying it is time to formulate creative strategies to contain the rapidly bulging population.

They warn that Nigeria’s high population growth rate is not commensurate with the pace of development or the resources available for people to cater to.

The National Demographic Health Survey pegged Nigeria’s population at 140.4 million in 2006 and reported 188.74 million in 2015, but the country reached 221.39 million in 2020 with a continuous growth rate of 3.2 percent and a fertility rate of up to 5.5 percent.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nigeria could cross 500 million citizens by 2050 at the current rate, becoming the third-largest population in the world if there are no controls.

According to study, 70% of the population of Nigeria is under the age of 30, 45% are under the age of 15 and are dependent, while just 3.5% are over the age of 65.

However, experts say the low contraceptive prevalence rate that has persisted at just 12 per cent for the longest time is the key cause of the population burst.

According to statistics, a disaggregation of the human indices of Nigeria shows that regions with the highest populations have the worst data in terms of poverty levels, death rates, lack of education, crime and abuse, whereas regions with smaller populations rank lower in these problems.

Dr Ejike Orji, a family planning expert says that these metrics do not represent a nation ready to exploit its diverse demography.

The consequence is that Nigeria is registered as the world’s poverty capital, ranks 187 out of 189 health care countries, has a high rate of emigration, unemployment, a large population of sexually active teenagers and adolescents without access to contraception and a high rate of maternal-infant mortality, with about 111 women and girls dying every day due to preventable pregnancies and births.

Dr Orji cautioned that if the impending demographic crisis is to be averted, there must be a major investment in the nation’s education and healthcare sectors.

He says that health care expenditure will ensure that maternal and infant deaths are minimized, as well as mortality rates below five, while qualitative education will ensure that the young population continues to study and work in Nigeria rather than emigrate abroad.

‘‘The key strategy we need is to improve family planning services to be qualitative and accessible to women and men to reduce the rate of population growth. We already have all the signs of a demographic crisis with our uneducated youthful bulge, always ready to perpetrate violence,’’ he explains.

‘’Part of the reasons women have so many children is because they don’t know how many will survive, if maternal services are good, children will not die, infant mortality rates will be low so that if a woman decides to have only two children, she knows the two will survive’’.

‘‘Investing in relevant, functional and appropriate education will ensure that the citizens have the tools to contribute to the economy, rather than being dependent on the government,’’

he said.

Dr. Amina Aminu-Dorayi, Country Director, Pathfinder, says the adoption of current resilience-building policies may be the key to addressing family planning issues, but she worries that the involvement of the private sector remains too poor for outcomes.

‘‘The gaps in private sector involvement in FP service delivery is still very low, partner communication with advocacy is not effective. Many women are eager to space childbirth or access family planning but they do not know where to go or what to use.

‘‘If we do not adopt new strategies to fit into current realities, then the pledge to achieve modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 27% among all women cannot be fulfilled