Cover Image
close this bookReversing the Spiral - The Population, Agriculture, and Environment Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa (WB, 1994, 320 p.)
close this folder7. Reducing population growth
View the documentPopulation policy
View the documentPrimary education
View the documentConclusion
View the documentNote


Rapid population growth is detrimental to achieving economic and social progress and to sustainable management of the natural resource base. But there remains a sizeable gap between the private and social interest in fertility reduction, and this gap needs to be narrowed. Policies and programs that influence health, education, the status of women, and the economic value of children in turn influence attitudes toward chiIdbearing, family planning, and people's ability to control family size. Efforts to reduce fertility through explicit population policies, therefore, should be integrated with policies to improve health, education, and the status of women.

The venous components of human resource development programs are strongly synergistic Family planning is more readily accepted when education levels are high and when mortality—and, in particular, third mortality—is low. Healthy children are more likely to attend school. C lean water and sanitation are more beneficial if combined with health education and nutrition education. Educated mothers are more likely to have fewer and healthier children. These human resource development efforts also have positive effects on agricultural productivity and, hence, on food security. This, in turn, stimulates demand for fewer children. Improvements in human resource development are therefore critical in multiple ways for long-term sustainable development.

Broad-based improvement in human resource development requires reorienting policies and financial resources to focus on delivery systems that respond to the critical needs of the majority of the population, including the poor. This calls for far greater emphasis on primary education and basic health cure. It also requires financial resources and, hence, substantial and sustained economic growth to generate sufficient resources to invest in human resource development (the significant potential and need for improving cost effectiveness notwithstanding). Without substantially improved agricultural growth performance, this will not be attainable.