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The leaders of ECOWAS Want the birth rate of West Africa to be halved

Ouagadougou (Globe Afrique) – Several key political figures and politicians in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called for measures to cut the birth rate in the region to bring the population explosion there under control. The leaders made the declaration on the weekend.

Salifou Diallo, Burkina Faso’s speaker of parliament on Saturday said ECOWAS nations as well as countries such as Mauritania and Chad should aim at cutting back their birth rate to three children per woman.

According to Mr. Diallo, the idea to cut the birth rate in half by 2030 is essential because the West African sub region has the highest fertility rates in the world.

He called for countries to adopt measures including universal access to family planning, improved education for women and better health care of children, to bring about “a rapid, voluntary decline” in the birth rate.

Currently, the average fertility rate in the region is 5.6 children per woman, the highest in the world. That means the population in the 15-nation West African regional bloc will reach a billion people by 2050 if no changes are made, according to UN estimates.

“We are in a situation of uncontrolled demography and we cannot hope for development with such a situation,” Diallo warned.

“It is urgent to contain the demographic push in the ECOWAS space to promote real, viable and durable development.”

“Young people represent two thirds of the population,” said Marcel De Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission.

“This youth, when it doesn’t find any solutions, becomes a bomb: they cross the desert or the Mediterranean, die by thousands through clandestine immigration,” he added.

Adrien Houngbedji, the president of Benin’s parliament, said the region’s politicians should decide on the balance between controlling the birth rate and improving the quality of life.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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