Considered to be one of the world’s poorest countries with one of the most serious food crises on the planet, Niger is also one of the countries with the highest birthrates. According to The New York Times, if the nation’s birthrate continues at its current rate, “the population will double in the next 15 years, to 35 million from over 17 million.”
Unfortunately, lack of food availability and large family sizes often go hand in hand. Although aid is given to Niger in order to help feed the starving citizens, aid in the form of birth control is not often distributed.
Moreover, even when women have access to contraception in Niger, they are often discouraged from using it by imams who are against “‘Western’ notions like birth control.”
While the Sahel Humanitarian Food Response Plan of 2014-2016 from the U.N. thoroughly discusses how to combat the severe food crisis in Niger, it does not address the topic of contraception.
Jean-Pierre Guengant, a research specialist of the Sahel region, told The New York Times that in a paper by himself and John F. May, another demographer, that “human capital formation investments (for example, education and health) and job creation appear to have been greatly facilitated by a rapid decline in fertility.”
His point is that while addressing the food crisis in Niger is very significant, it is not the only issue that needs to be examined when working to support and reconstruct the lives of the citizens of Niger. Understanding the value of contraception and figuring out a way to incorporate it into the daily lives of a majority of the people living in Niger will enormously enhance the quality of life in the region. Additionally, Guengant claims that one of the keys to fully incorporating contraception into the lives of the people of Niger is to attain a strong level of political commitment to the regular use of contraception.
– Jordyn Horowitz