Peak & Prairie
December 1999 / January 2000
Family Planning Efforts Meet Success Worldwide
by Fred Elbel, Chapter Population Committee Chair
Although the population of the U.S. and of the majority of nations continues to increase dramatically, there are a number of success stories that show that family planning efforts do pay off. A number of nations have adopted family planning policies and programs and have reduced their birth rates significantly. U.S. family planning assistance and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) have helped substantially with the costs incurred by other nations in addressing their population growth. For example:
Thailand received U.S. population assistance until 1990, when their government assumed full responsibility for their family planning program. Fertility (children per woman) has fallen from over 6 in 1960 to a near-replacement level of 2.1. To date, Thailand has imported more U.S. goods than it received in population assistance.
Colombia, with the help of U.S. family planning aid, reduced fertility from 6.6 children per woman to 2.7. Colombia, too, has imported more U.S. goods and services than was received in assistance.
Egypt has reduced fertility from 5.3 to 3.9 children, assisted by U.S. population aid.
A Tanzanian radio soap opera founded by the UNFPA significantly influenced listeners’ use of contraception. Married women who listened to the program were twice as likely to practice family planning than others who did not listen to the program.
Kenya and Botswana were among the first African countries to begin strong family planning programs. Now Mongolia, Iran, Oman and Bolivia have instituted national family planning programs.
In Bangladesh, fertility has dropped from seven children per woman in 1975 to three. Radio there provides six hours of family planning and health programming per day.
In the U.S., Title X enables low-income women to achieve their desired family size. Every year, it prevents 1.3 million unintended pregnancies, which in turn avoids 632,000 abortions and 534,000 births.
The Sierra Club believes population stabilization is essential to the protection of the environment and supports freedom of choice as well as family planning programs, nationally and internationally.
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