Local leaders at grass-roots level in Umudugudu, are championing the family planning drive given the threats posed by the country's fast growing population.
© UN Photo/John Isaac
Kigali - Local leaders at grass-roots level in Umudugudu, are championing the family planning drive given the threats posed by the country's fast growing population.
After a four-hour community workshop early Saturday, residents of Intwari Village in Kimironko Sector assembled for a meeting in which the country's fast growing population, apart from other matters, took centre stage.
The gathering of over 70 residents, young and old, male and female, then keenly listened as Dr. Ezéchias Rwabuhihi, an area resident, who is also a former Health Minister and legislator expounded on the threats posed by a large family and, consequently a large population to a small comparatively poor economy.
"A family should, surely, have children it is able to properly look after - feed, educate, cloth, and provide many others basics for," Rwabuhihi told the attentive audience.
"Unlike our forefathers, it is time we bring to an end the misguided conceptions that we can only give birth to children and then leave them to God's care."
This "utterly" mistaken belief, he noted, was often even manifested within "our own" traditions - especially in names such as Harelimana (it is God who takes care of), and this kind of tradition had to change.
Describing an alarming population state of affairs in the most unambiguous terms, Rwabuhihi told Intwari residents how the country's population has exploded from one million to, currently, over 10 million in just a few decades.
He noted, Rwanda's wealth moves up disproportionally slowly and the land size does not increase at all.
The residents seemed to take all this in and agreed that the Village's women, including girls above 18 years should participate in a related but special female only session at the end of next month's Umuganda.
With a surface area of 26,338 square kilometres, the country remains the most densely populated country in Africa.
A large population such as Rwanda's heavily bears down on scarce resources, including health services.
A case in point is illustrated by the Ministry of Health's 2008 health indicators where the doctor-population ratio is 1:18,000 while the nurse ratio is at 1:1,690 respectively.
The average fertility rate drop of 5.5 children per woman from 6.1 in 2005, however encouraging, analysts state, still remains a massive burden to the economy and if it continues unchecked, could be ruinous.
Instead of forcibly limiting couples to no more than three children, Government has opted to sensitise Rwandans to control the size of their families.
Two children per family are considered as ideal.
Religious groups, especially the Catholic Church, are being urged to assist in the campaign since they have huge influence on their followers on issues such as the use of contraceptives in family planning.