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The cost benefit analysis (shown in the PDF below) of family planning in Kenya by USAID could be done for most countries of the world. It shows the savings in meeting the Millennium Development Goals that can be achieved by family planning. The paper does not spell out what is required to meet the “unmet need” for family planning, but as I summarize below (in a commentary I was invited to give on the BBC program, One Planet), information is needed along with family planning services in order to achieve this goal. An edited version of my commentary can be heard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/science/2009/03/000000_one_planet.shtml in the 28 May podcast (starting at 16:55 minutes).
Kenya Family Planning Cost Benefit Analysis (PDF, 534 KB)
How to solve the population problem
The world’s population is now growing by 82 million people a year, which is the equivalent of adding the population of a new Egypt every year. This growth is not sustainable economically or ecologically.
This is a problem that needs urgent attention, both for environmental reasons and to lift people out of poverty. Since World War II, no country has gone from developing status to developed status without first reducing its population growth rate.
The reason is simple. Reduced family size enables couples to save a higher percentage of their income and invest some of it in education and infrastructure. This leads to increased productivity of the economy, greater employment, and higher incomes.
Most of the global response to the population problem has focused on provision of family planning services. However, the reasons for non-use of family planning have little to do with lack of access. The top reasons are the traditional desire for large families, misinformation about contraceptives, religious opposition, and opposition from male partners.
Information is essential to overcome these barriers, and motivation is vital. As demonstrated in many developed countries, delaying marriage and childbearing is a key part of the solution.
The countries that have reduced population growth have invested in changing attitudes and behaviors to create a shift in cultural norms that reflect the importance of improving the status of women, creating smaller ideal family size, delaying the age of first pregnancy, and demonstrating the benefits of using contraception
To help countries achieve these cultural shifts, Population Media Center uses a unique methodology to produce entertaining serial dramas, with characters that gradually evolve into positive role models for the audience. The dramas are locally written and produced, and are broadcast on the most popular radio or TV stations in the countries where we work. PMC’s strategy has now been replicated in 24 countries, reached more than 100 million people, and has proven to lead to elevation of women’s status, reduced birth rates, and overall improved health and welfare among the audiences.
Use of this strategy is essential to solving the global population problem and to achieving a sustainable future.
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit