Nigeria population: Sachs' three-baby plan 'tricky'

Mother and baby in Lagos 22/05 Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to have a baby

A Nigerian family planning expert has told the BBC it would be difficult to implement the suggestion that Nigerians should only have three children.

Isaac Ogo pointed to the tradition of polygamy and the belief that the children were seen as a "gift from God" in a male-dominated society.

Recent UN figures suggest Nigeria's population could jump to 730 million by 2100 - behind only India and China.

UN special adviser Jeffrey Sachs said this prospect alarmed him.

"It is not healthy. Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family," he told the AFP news agency.

Mr Ogo, from the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, agrees with the goal but says it will be hard to change the views of many Nigerians.

He says Nigeria is a "high birth, high death" society where many people think: "I need to have as much children as I want, as I don't know which will survive."

Nigeria is one of the world's worst places to have a baby, according to the UN.

About 145 women die each day in pregnancy or childbirth, as do 2,300 children below five years of age.

'Not their business'

Mr Ogo also told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that many women are unable to visit an organisation such as his without their husband's agreement.

On the streets of the northern city of Kaduna, some people told the BBC that God decided how many children they had and so it would be wrong to try to limit the number of births.

"[The UN] should try to advise the government how to make the lives of Nigerians better, not telling Nigerians not to have children - that is not their business," one angry woman said.

But one woman agreed with Mr Sachs, saying that in a poor country such as Nigeria, it was better to have fewer children and look after them properly.

Nigeria's population is currently 160m - by far the most populous in Africa but a long way behind those of China and India.

As those countries grow richer, the UN predicts their populations will stop expanding, while those in Africa such as Nigeria, will continue to grow rapidly.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I think Nigerians/Africans should be allowed to think for themselves. All we need is the international community to help us repatriate all the stolen money by our politicians and stop encouraging them to steal and bank them abroad to the detriment of our economy. Planned Parenthood should be told that they can't make any headway in Africa. Their aim of depleting our population won't work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    It is absolutely critical that Nigeria accept this advice. For its own sake. There is no way the country can sustain this pace of population growth. Over the last 50 years Nigeria has regressed in almost every measure of development known to man - except population growth in which it has boomed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The UN is not 'telling' Nigerians what to do, it is 'advising' Nigerians on how to break the cycle of poverty. That is part of the UN mandate. The UN agencies and the UK provide direct assistance to Nigeria, with the aim to improve maternal health and childbirth. However, only Nigerians can end the cycle of poverty through necessary social change. Most developed countries endured this process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Overpopulation should not be seen as a curse but a blessing if well harnessed into productivity in the area of agriculture and manufacturing as this will entail food security,cheap labour..

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It is far more criminal to bring children into the world to suffer a life of abject poverty with no hope of improving circumstances than "telling" people how many children to have. It is a violation of human rights to be brought into this world to suffer. Poor children are most likely to be abused, not educated and exploited for labor or in the sex trade. Lesser evil is contraception, no brainer.


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