Population growth, fertility transition and family planning in West and Central Africa
Thi Minh Ngo, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
This paper provides an overview of the demographic transition in West and Central Africa in relation to the rest of the world. Specific features of population growth, fertility trends and family planning pertaining to the region are highlighted, including persistent preferences for large desired family sizes among men and women; persistently low contraceptive use and greater unmet need for spacing rather than limiting births; high prevalence of early marriage and teenage pregnancy; widespread reluctance to use modern contraceptive methods from women themselves (not necessarily because of spousal opposition). The paper highlights the issue of high adolescent fertility and argues that policies that raise the age at first birth, encourage access to contraception and provide adequate information on birth spacing for young girls, and reduce the high proportion of unsafe abortions, may be particularly promising avenues.