Should Nigerians Have a Three-Child Limit?

Should Nigerians Have a Three-Child Limit?

A U.N report warns that the West African nation’s population could reach 730 million by 2100.

Published May 25, 2011

With Nigeria’s population due to skyrocket to 730 million by 2100, one United Nations official is proposing a drastic solution: families in the nation should be limited to having only three children.


“[Such a high population] is not healthy,” U.N. special adviser Jeffrey Sachs told AFP. “Nigeria should work towards attainting a maximum of three children per family.” Nigeria’s current population is estimated to be about 150 million, and on average a Nigerian woman gives birth five times during her life, according to government figures.


But would limiting offspring, a tactic used in another highly populated country, China, work in the West African nation?


While Sachs agrees with the proposal, a spokesman from the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria told the BBC it would be hard to change the traditional mindset held by many in the nation about having children.


Many people practice polygamy and children are often seen as a “gift from God,” Isaac Ogo said. He also pointed out that in a nation with such a high infant-mortality rate (91.54 deaths per every 1,000 live births, No. 9 in the world), many think, “I need to have as much children as I want, as I don’t know which will survive.” The nation has been declared as being one of the worst places in the world to have a baby, according to the U.N.


The proposal also provoked a hostile reaction from some citizens when asked.


"[The U.N.] 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 woman told a BBC reporter.


Back in 1980, China instituted its controversial one-child rule in an effort to slow its population growth, and it looks like it’s working to some extent. While China remains the world’s most populous nation, with 1.34 billion people, its annual growth rate according to last year’s census dropped to .57 percent, which is down from 1.7 percent between 1990 and 2000, the Wall Street Journal  reports.


(Photo:Afolabi Sotunde/Landov)



Written by Hortense M. Barber


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