The rapid urban population growth in Africa’s cities is primarily due to more births than deaths in the cities as opposed to rural to urban migration.
According to experts’ findings at the 9th Africities Summit in Kisumu, the majority of urban populations tended to be younger than in the rural areas, and millions of urban women were willing to limit their births but were unable to do so due to limited or no supply of contraceptives.
Speaking at a session on the sidelines of the Africities conference, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris emphasized that safeguarding women’s rights is key in urban development.
“By increasing the capacity for leaders to respond to the needs of women, we can safeguard women’s human rights and guarantee their dignity, and in so doing protect the children from the ripple negative effects of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies,” she said.
Prof. Alex Ezeh, the founding executive director of the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) who is also a professor of Global Health at Drexel University added that in order to achieve sustainable development, cities should invest more in family planning.
“Family planning is one of the most important investments you can make to improve the lives of the citizens of your city. In the longer term, it will make every shilling you spend on infrastructure, education, health and creating decent jobs go much further because the number of people requiring such services is not growing faster than your government’s ability to respond to them,” he said.
Prof. Ezeh emphasized that African cities needed to understand the role fertility plays in urban growth.
“Hard infrastructure like roads, housing, water, and sanitation are important and needed in Africa’s cities. However, with the growth rate of our cities, no amount of investments will be enough, especially in secondary cities, like Kisumu, unless we understand the role fertility plays in urban growth,” he emphasized.
During the discussion, The Challenge Initiative (TCI) organization also presented its success stories and findings which revealed that in Kenya, three in ten women face the unmet needs in slum areas, more than double all women living in urban areas.
It also highlighted that the barriers to access ranged from cultural and societal pressure on women to poverty, and discrimination, especially for those considered young or unmarried when trying to get modern contraception.
Kenya has been at the forefront in dealing with issues like population where women have been given free contraceptives for family planning.