Birth and death rates in West Africa

Population policies: Since the 1960s, mortality has declined steadily due to advances in medicine, immunisation and improved access to basic services like drinking water. Population policies should have resulted in a decline in natality greater than mortality to accelerate the demographic transition. However, this was not the case. Such policies suffer from a lack of political support and from strong socio-cultural restrictions. They should now be placed at the centre of development strategies to benefit from increased financial and human resources and thereby influence policies across all sectors. Population policies should include the distribution of modern and traditional forms of contraception and should use the media to inform people about the benefits of lower birth rates. The least resilient and most vulnerable and marginalised women should be prioritised, especially the poor and those who have limited access to education, healthcare and a regular, healthy diet. Policies should also draw on urbanisation as a strong factor for change. Delays in the decline of the fertility rate will pose serious challenges to the improvement of food and nutrition security.  Food security policies should take the speed of the demographic transition into account - especially in countries where this transition is less advanced - in order to accelerate its completion.

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